US President Donald Trump doubled down on China for failing to tame the coronavirus at its very origin, saying it has led to 184 countries “going through hell”, as several American lawmakers demanded steps to reduce dependence on Beijing for manufacturing and minerals.
In addition, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China “rebuffed” US efforts to get experts on the ground at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak to help contain its spread. “This president and this administration worked diligently to get Americans on the ground there in China, to help the World Health Organisation try to get in there as well. We were rebuffed,” Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Chinese government wouldn’t let it happen, indeed just the opposite of transparency. They kicked American journalists out and denied access to American and other Western scientists at the time that it was frankly most critical that we understand what was going on there, he said.
Trump has been publicly blaming China for the global spread of the “invisible enemy” and launched an investigation against it. He has also indicated that the US may be looking at “a lot more money” in damages from China than the $140 billion being sought by Germany from Beijing for the pandemic.
Leaders of the US, the UK and Germany believe that the deaths and the destruction of the global economy could have been avoided had China shared the information about the virus in its early phases.
“It is in 184 countries, as you hear me say often. It’s hard to believe. It’s inconceivable,” Trump told reporters at White House Tuesday. “It should have been stopped at the source, which was China. It should have been stopped very much at the source, but it wasn’t. And now we have 184 countries going through hell.”
The virus, which originated in China’s Wuhan city in mid-November, has killed more than two lakh people and infected over three million globally. The largest number of them are in the US: nearly 59,000 deaths and over one million infections.
China on Tuesday went on the offensive against international criticism over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing US politicians of “barefaced lies”. “American politicians have repeatedly ignored the truth and have been telling barefaced lies,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a press briefing.