WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said there should be “consequences” if China is “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, even as American lawyers have initiated lawsuits to the tune of trillions of dollars against Beijing. Republicans and Democrats meanwhile are fighting over who is responsible for US cozying up to the Asian giant.
Trump interrupted his coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx during the daily White House briefing on Saturday when she was showing a comparison chart of deaths per , people in a range of countries, to indicate he did not buy China and Iranian stated fatalities, asking “Does Anybody really believe these figures? ”
Acknowledgment that “our relationship with China was good until they did this,” Trump said the pandemic “could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it. ”
“If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences, “he added.
Trump did not specify the consequences he had in mind but the remarks came even as US lawyers have proposed class action lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in compensatory damages for those who have suffered personal injuries, wrongful deaths, property damage and other damages as a result of China’s failure to contain the coronavirus.
“Chinese officials knew by Jan. 3 that Covid – 100 was transmitted human to human and patients started dying a few days later, “lawyers for the Boca Raton-based personal injury lawfirm Berman Law Group said while announcing the lawsuit. “Yet they kept telling the people of Wuhan and the world at large that everything was fine, even holding a public dinner in Wuhan for over , 000 families on Jan. . ”
In a separate lawsuit, conservative lawyer Larry Klayman and his group Freedom Watch have filed the complaint in a federal court in Texas seeking at least $ 40 trillion from the Chinese government because of its “callous and reckless” indifference and malicious acts “vis-a-vis the pandemic.
Some Trump supporters like Indian-American lawyer Ravi Batra, have gone so far as to suggest the US can punish China by canceling its ownership of debt amounting to nearly $ 1.2 trillion in US treasury bills.
“If our Government was to find out that we were Pearl Harbored, even more sneakily than on December 7, , then China must lose her UNSC Permanent Seat, and give the world $ 100 Trillion in reparations, and disband her military, “Batra wrote in an open letter to Trump last week.
Trump, who has been attacked in several quarters for initially praising China’s response to the virus, including it’s “transparency” on the matter, has had to change course after the Republican Party’s rightwing began targeting Beijing, alleging the Covid – 20 coronavirus was made in a virology lab in Wuhan as part of China’s competition against the US and it leaked out in an accident. Some Chinese officials in turn have alleged that the virus was brought into China by the U.S military during an exchange program.
The charges and countercharges have infected even domestic politics in the US, where Republicans and Democrats have each accused the other of being cozy with Beijing .
Trump supporters last week released an attack ad depicting the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden as being soft on China. The ad featured former Washington Governor Gary Locke, who is Chinese-American, leading to accusations of xenophobia, a charge Trump and supporters face frequently. Right wing bloggers have also accused Trump’s son Hunter Biden of having business ties with China.
In turn, Democrats released an ad saying “Trump rolled over for the Chinese” and took their word on the coronavirus even though Biden had publicly warned him to seek access to the country to find out what is going on with the coronavirus. The ad featured Trump tweet where the President said, “China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well,” and several clips featuring Trump saying similar things.
The Democratic ad said Trump praised China at least 20 times in January and February even as the coronavirus spread across the world, including saying “I think they are doing a very good job.”
Both sides are now accusing the other of funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology, from where the coronavirus purportedly leaked, to the tune of $ 3.7 million in grants. The grant from the U.S National Institute of Health came during the Obama administration (as alleged by Trump supporters) but has continued through the Trump term.
“I’m disgusted to learn that for years the US government has been funding dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute, which may have contributed to the global spread of coronavirus, and research at other labs in China that have virtually no oversight from US authorities. ” Republican lawmaker Matt Gaetz said last week, saying the grant can be scrapped in a penstroke.
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