Trump angers China by warning US may seek damages over virus

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump suggested he may seek damages from China over the coronavirus pandemic which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan and spread around the world, prompting a furious response from Beijing yesterday.

Beijing and Washington have clashed repeatedly over the outbreak as tensions have soared between the world’s two biggest economic powers. “We are not happy with China,” Trump said at a White House briefing on Monday. “We are not happy with that whole situation because we believe it could have been stopped at the source.

“It could have been stopped quickly and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world,” he said, saying there were many options to “hold them accountable”.

Trump was asked about a recent German newspaper editorial which called on China to pay Germany USD165 billion in reparations because of economic damage due to the virus.

Asked if the US would consider doing the same, Trump said “we can do something much easier than that”.

“Germany is looking at things, we are looking at things,” he said. “We haven’t determined the final amount yet,” Trump said.

In Beijing, a Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday accused US politicians of “telling barefaced lies” and of ignoring their “own serious problems”. “American politicians have repeatedly ignored the truth and have been telling barefaced lies,” Geng Shuang told reporters at a regular press briefing.

“They have only one objective: shirk their responsibility for their own poor epidemic prevention and control measures, and divert public attention.” Geng said US politicians should “reflect on their own problems and find ways to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible.”