DONALD TRUMP has signalled a further deterioration of his relationship with China over the pandemic, going so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second largest economy.
The US president ruled out renegotiating the trade deal with China and reiterated anger over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which spread across the world killing over 3,00,000 people, including 80,000 in America.
“They should have never let this happen,” Trump told Fox Business News on Thursday (14). “So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me.”
The US and China had signed Phase-1 of a trade deal in the beginning of the year, ending a bitter two-year tariff war that had rattled the global economy.
“The Chinese said somewhere that they would like to renegotiate the (trade) deal. We are not going to renegotiate,” said Trump.
“Look, I’m not happy about anything having to do with that particular subject (China) right now. Everything I said turned out to be right. You look at other countries they charge us tariffs to do business and we are not allowed to charge them.”
Responding to a question, Trump accused the Chinese of stealing intellectual property (IP) from the US.
“They were never called (out). Now they are being called out,” he said. “We can stop them, they are going to try doing it. I mean you could also stop doing business with them, that is one thing. Look, we have lost a fortune dealing with China. We have rebuilt China.
“They have done a great job but the people sitting in this seat (The Oval Office) have allowed them to rip us off like you’ve never seen before and that includes President (Barack) Obama and (Joe) Biden ‘sleepy Joe’. He allowed them to rip this country off. We spent hundreds of billions, we gave them hundreds of billions of dollars year-in and year-out.”
The president said he did not want to discuss any issue with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. “I have a very good relationship, but I just — right now I don’t want to speak to him,” he said.
There were “many things” the US could do, Trump asserted.
“There are many things we could do. We could do things, we could cut off the whole relationship. Now if you did what would happen? You would save $500 billion, if you cut off the whole relationship.” he said.
Trump also confirmed reports that he had ordered withdrawal of American pension fund investments in China. “Billions of dollars, billions… Yeah, I pulled it back,” he said.
The coronavirus, which first emerged in China’s Wuhan city in December last, has killed over 3,00,000 people with 4.3 million confirmed cases across the world. More than a quarter of all confirmed Covid-19 cases are in the US.
There has been increasing pressure on Trump to take action against China, as many lawmakers and opinion-makers feel that the Covid-19 spread across the world from Wuhan because of Chinese inaction.
Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have maintained that the deadly virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Whether it came from the lab or came from the bats, it all came from China, and they should have stopped it,” said Trump.
The US has repeatedly asked China to allow the international community to go into the laboratory in Wuhan for investigation.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network that China needed to provide a lot more information about the coronavirus.
“The president is concerned. He’s reviewing all his options. Obviously, we’re very concerned about the impact of this virus on the economy, on American jobs, the health of the American public and the president is going to do everything to protect the economy and protect American workers,” Mnuchin said.
“It’s a difficult and complex matter and the president has made very clear, he wants more information. They didn’t let us in, they didn’t let us understand what was going on and the American public have right to understand all the facts.”