WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was very disappointed in China over its failure to contain the novel coronavirus, saying the worldwide pandemic cast a pall over his US-China trade deal.
The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, in December and was spreading silently as Washington and Beijing signed a Phase 1 trade deal hailed by the Republican president as a major achievement.
“I’m very disappointed in China,” the Republican president said in an interview broadcast Thursday on Fox Business Network.
“They should have never let this happen. 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,” Trump said.
The US president’s pique extended to Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom, Trump says repeatedly, he has a good relationship. “But I just – right now I don’t want to speak to him. I don’t want to speak to him,” Trump said.
Under the Phase 1 deal signed in January, Beijing pledged to buy at least US$200 billion in additional US goods and services over two years while Washington agreed to roll back tariffs in stages on Chinese goods.
A Chinese state-run newspaper has reported that some government advisers in Beijing were urging fresh talks and possibly invalidating the agreement.
Trump said again he was not interested in renegotiating.
While US intelligence agencies said the virus did not appear to be manmade or genetically modified, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said early in May there is “a significant amount of evidence” the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan.
His comments followed Trump’s assertion on April 30 that he was confident the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab.
In the Fox Business interview, which was taped on Wednesday, Trump focused more on China’s response to the outbreak than on its origin.
“We have a lot of information, and it’s not good. Whether it came from the lab or came from the bats, it all came from China, and they should have stopped it. They could have stopped it, at the source,” he said.
“It got out of control.”