Washington: Stepping up attack against Beijing over COVID-19 pandemic which has killed over 2,30,000 people globally so far, US President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed that the novel coronavirus emerged from a virology lab in the Wuhan city of China. Further, he also threatened China with fresh tariffs.Also Read - ‘Not Interested in US Election’: China Tells Trump Not to Drag Beijing Into America’s Internal Matter
“Yes, I have. Yes, I have,” Trump told reporters at the East Room of the White House when asked if he has seen anything at this point that gives him a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is where the virus originated. Also Read - Trump's Another Attack on China: 'Beijing Will Do Anything They Can To Have Me Lose Election Race'
The president, however, refused to provide any details, except for saying that investigations are on and it would be out soon. Also Read - Coronavirus: WHO Misled us; Why Did China Allow Planes to Fly Out But Not in, Asks Donald Trump
When reporters asked him if would cancel US debt obligations to China, Trump said he could “do it differently”.
“I could do the same thing but even for more money, just putting on tariffs,” he said.
The president, however, did not hold his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping responsible for this. “I don’t want to say that, I don’t want to say that, but certainly it could have been stopped. It came out of China and it could have been stopped and I wish they had stopped it and so does the whole world wish they had stopped it.”
Reiterating that this is something that could have been contained at Wuhan ground zero, he said that China could have contained it. “They were either unable to, or they chose not to. And the world has suffered greatly.”
One of two things happened, he reasoned. “They either didn’t do it and you know they couldn’t do it from a competent standpoint or they let it spread and I would say probably it got out of control.”
“But there’s another case that how come they stopped all of the planes and all of the traffic from going into China, but they didn’t stop the planes and the traffic from coming into the United States and from coming into all over Europe,” he said, citing the example of Italy, the hardest-hit European country.
(With agency inputs)