On Saturday, United States President Donald Trump stated that China should face “consequences” if it was “knowingly responsible” for the pandemic that has resulted in around 2.3 million confirmed cases worldwide and cost the lives of over 160,000 people.
Trump has repeatedly accused the Asian powerhouse of being responsible for a myriad of issues, including for manipulating their currency and for deceit on an international scale.
The US has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other country, with more than 738,000 confirmed cases and over 39,000 deaths as of April 18.
At the daily White House briefing, Trump, suggesting that the virus could have been stopped in China, claimed that the “whole world is suffering because of it.”
“If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences,” Trump said, without going into detail about what the consequences should be.
Past claims and freezing of WHO funding
The rhetoric comes after Trump freezed funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this week, accusing the institution of being “China-centric” despite receiving the largest amount of its financial support from the US.
This is not the first time Trump has criticized China. Aside from launching a CIA investigation into China’s handling of the pandemic, Trump has also stated that China’s reports on the number of confirmed cases and deaths were on the “light side.”
Trump has also been accused of spurring racism and xenophobia against the Asian-American population in the US through his labeling of COVID-19, which he frequently refers to as the “Chinese virus.”
But White House officials are mindful of the potential diplomatic backlash that may result from Trump’s rhetoric, as many states are still heavily reliant on China for personal protective equipment.
Trump’s rhetoric also has the potential of worsening the already tense trade relations that existed between the two countries prior to the outbreak.
Trump, though, has said that the relationship between the US and China is a good one, with a multi-billion dollar phase one trade agreement already agreed upon by the two countries. “But then all of a sudden you hear about this,” Trump added.
Bret Baier continues to attack China
Meanwhile, prominent Fox News anchor Bret Baier continued amping up his rhetoric against the country.
On Saturday, Baier appeared on “Watters’ World” where he reported feeling increasingly confident that the coronavirus pandemic began in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, as part of China’s efforts to compete with the US.
This comes a day after the “Special Report” anchor joined Sean Hannity on “Hannity,” where he said, “the thing that is inconclusive is exactly about the lab but more and more dots both open source and classified point right to the lab… What there is 100% confidence of… is the level and extent of the cover up China went to… why there is such a point of looking at this lab.”