INTERNATIONAL

U.S. may seek damages from China

President says many options on the table to hold Beijing accountable, draws an angry response

U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he may seek damages from China over the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan and spread around the world, prompting a furious response from Beijing on Tuesday.

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,” Mr. 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”.

Mr. Trump was asked about a recent German newspaper editorial, which called on China to pay Germany $165 billion in reparations because of economic damage due to the virus.

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

Tensions and doubt

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

In Beijing, a Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday accused U.S. politicians of “telling barefaced lies”, without naming Trump specifically, 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.”

Mr. Geng said U.S. politicians should “reflect on their own problems and find ways to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible.”

There have been nearly a million infections with more than 56,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. and the pandemic has shut down huge swathes of the economy.

In China, the outbreak seems to be under control with no new deaths reported for 13 straight days and the toll standing at 4,633 — although several countries have cast doubt over whether the numbers are accurate.

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