WASHINGTON: Revealing that his administration is conducting “very serious” and “very strong” investigations into China’s role in the global coronavirus pandemic, US President Donald Trump said on Monday that Washington is considering punitive financial steps against Beijing that could result in some form of reparation totaling hundreds of billions of dollars.
“There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable. We’re doing very serious investigations… and we are not happy with China. 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, ”Trump said at the daily coronavirus task force briefing when a reporter from a rightwing outlet drew his attention to polls showing Americans blaming China for the spread of the coronavirus and another asked if he would consider seeking compensation for economic losses.
More on Covid – Trump, who repeatedly defended China, praised its “transparency” about the coronavirus, and talked up his friendship with President Xi for several weeks before the pandemic began spreading inside the US, has adopted an tough tough approach towards Beijing, including pledging he will free the US business from China’s supply chains, particularly in the medical supplies sector.
Asked by one reporter if he would consider something like the billion Euro bill that Germany purportedly sent to China (it was actually proposed by a German newspaper, not the government), Trump said, “We have ways of doing things a lot easier than that … And we’re talking about a lot more money than Germany is talking about. ”
The final amount, Trump said, hasn’t been determined yet but it would be “very substantial” considering it was not just US but the whole world that was damaged. It was not clear if Trump was talking of seeking reparations on behalf of the whole world; the U.S President frequently speaks airily and off-then-cuff without clarity or forethought.
Trump talked about the tariffs he has imposed on Chinese goods, which many experts have said simply resulted in the American consumer having to pay more for imports from China. Seldom in international relations have countries paid reparations for causing harm, willfully or otherwise, to another nation, much less to the entire world. In one rare instance, West Germany paid $ 7 billion to the young state of Israel after the Holocaust.
But Trump is under increasing pressure to act against Beijing, both from the hard right wing in his own party and from the liberal brigade, some of whom have alleged that he has business ties with China that forced him to take a soft line on Beijing, a charge the US President has rebuffed, pointing to his early decision to ban air traffic from China.
Talk of billing China for the pandemic rose after the German newspaper Bild came up with an “invoice” of nearly billion billion in economic damage to Germany because of the pandemic. But the German foreign ministry declined to endorse the bill and dismissed the exercise as “illusory.”
In U.S however public mood has distinctly soured against China. One poll showed per cent of respondents agreeing that China kept the coronavirus data from international health care experts and per cent believing China viewing the pandemic as an opportunity to advance its international agenda. More than 150 per cent wanted the US to require changing its trading relationship with China, with 130 per cent wanting to withdraw US manufacturing from China.
Some hardline conservative lawmakers have gone so far as to argue the US should deny visas for Chinese students wanting to study science in the US suggesting that they steal American secrets. “It’s a scandal to me that we have trained so many of the Chinese Communist Party’s brightest minds to go back to China, to compete for our jobs, to take our business and ultimately to steal our property and design weapons and other devices that can be used against the American people, ”Republican Senator Tom Cotton, considered close to President Trump, said in a television interview on Sunday. “I think we need to take a very hard look at the visas that we give to Chinese nationals to come to the United States to study, especially at the postgraduate level in advanced scientific and technological fields.”
“If Chinese students want to come here and study Shakespeare and the Federalist Papers, that’s what they need to learn from America. They don’t need to learn quantum computing and artificial intelligence from America, “he added. China is the biggest source of foreign students in the US, with more than , 19 enrollments. They mostly study science and engineering.
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