US President Donald Trump warned that China could face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak. “It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t,” Trump said at a White House briefing.
“Now the whole world is suffering because of it.” It was the latest US volley in a war of words between the world’s two biggest economies, showing increased strains in relations at a time when experts say an unprecedented level of cooperation is needed to deal with the crisis.
“If they were knowingly responsible, certainly,” he said. “If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake, but if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, then there should be consequences.”
He said the Chinese were “embarrassed” and the question now was whether what happened with the coronavirus was “a mistake that got out of control, or was it done deliberately? There’s a big difference between those two.”
During the White House briefing, Trump interrupted his coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx, who was showing a comparison of deaths per 100,000 people in a range of countries, to say he didn’t believe China and Iran’s stated fatalities. “Does anybody really believe these figures?” he asked.
Birx, who has steered clear of political aspects of Trump’s contentious briefings, also questioned China’s data, including that the country’s death rate per 100,000 people was far below major European countries and the US. She called China’s numbers “unrealistic” and said it had a “moral obligation” to provide credible information.
Source: various agencies