President Donald Trump has described the coronavirus pandemic as the “worst attack” ever in the United States, pointing to China.
Trump said the epidemic hit the United States harder than the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II or the September 11 attacks two decades ago.
His administration assesses the punitive actions against China for its rapid handling of the global emergency.
Beijing says the United States wants to distract itself from its own response to the pandemic.
Since its appearance in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the coronavirus has reportedly infected 1.2 million Americans, killing more than 73,000 people.
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What did President Trump say?
Speaking to reporters at the White House Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump said, “We have had the worst attack we have ever had on our country, it is the worst attack we have ever had.
“It’s worse than Pearl Harbor, it’s worse than the World Trade Center. There has never been an attack like this.
“And that should never have happened. Could have been arrested at the source. Could have been arrested in China. He should have been arrested directly at the source. And it wasn’t. “
Asked later by a reporter if he saw the pandemic as a true act of war, Trump said the epidemic was the enemy of America rather than China.
“I see the invisible enemy [coronavirus] like a war, “he said. I don’t like how it got here because he could have been arrested, but no, I see the invisible enemy as a war. ”
Who else on the Trump team is critical of China?
The widening gap between Washington and Beijing was further underlined on Wednesday when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed his rhetoric against China, accusing him of covering the epidemic.
He has remained faithful to his baseless accusation so far that there is “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus hatched in a Chinese laboratory, while acknowledging that there is still uncertainty as to its origins.
“Both of these statements are true,” the top US diplomat told the BBC. “We have no certainty and there is significant evidence that it came from a laboratory. “
Chinese state media accused him of lying.
One of America’s most trusted public health experts has said that the best evidence indicates that the virus was not made in the laboratory.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Mr. Trump’s coronavirus task force, said on Monday that the disease appeared to have “moved into the wild and then jumped for cash.”
Why is the United States blaming China?
President Trump faces a tough re-election campaign in November, but the once buoyant US economy – which had been his main selling point – is currently in a coronavirus-induced coma.
A Pew opinion poll last month found that two-thirds of Americans, a historic high, view China unfavorably. But roughly the same range of polls said they thought Mr. Trump had acted too slowly to contain the pandemic.
While Mr. Trump found his crisis management under surveillance, he began labeling the epidemic “the Chinese virus,” but abandoned the term last month before speaking on the phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump and his likely Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, appear to be concerned with China’s unpopularity as an electoral problem, each accusing the other of being lazy for America’s main economic competitor.
As the coronavirus started spreading to the United States in January, Trump signed the first phase of a trade deal with China that called for a truce in their tariff war. The President’s hopes of sealing a more comprehensive phase two agreement are now in limbo due to the pandemic.