US President Donald Trump said on Monday that China could have stopped the coronavirus before it swept the globe and said his administration was conducting “serious investigations” into what happened.
“We’re doing very serious investigations … We are not happy with China,” Trump said at a White House news conference. “There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable.”
“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’s criticism was the latest from his administration to target China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which began late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has grown into a global pandemic.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States “strongly believed” Beijing failed to report the outbreak in a timely manner and covered up how dangerous the respiratory illness caused by the virus was.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Twitter on Monday Pompeo should “stop playing the political game. Better save energy on saving lives.”
The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 207 000 people around the world, including more than 55 000 in the United States, according to a Reuters tally.
Earlier on Monday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro accused China of sending low-quality and even counterfeit coronavirus antibody testing kits to the United States and of “profiteering” from the pandemic.
Navarro, an outspoken critic of Beijing whom Trump has appointed to work on supply-line issues relating to the health crisis, said more testing both for the virus and antibodies was vital to getting Americans currently in lockdown back to work.
“That’s where, perhaps, we can find people who are immune, that can be in the workplace in a more safe environment. But we can’t have China, for example, bringing in those fake tests and counterfeit tests, because that’s going to be very disruptive,” Navarro said in an interview on Fox News.
“There’s a lot of these antibody tests coming in from China now that are low quality, false readings and things like that,” he said.
The United States is heavily reliant on China for basic equipment and drugs.