Trump blasts China over handling of virus
Donald Trump has blamed China for the huge impact the coronavirus is having around the world, saying that numerous other countries are "paying a very big price" for the decisions of the Chinese government.
Speaking at a White House news conference on Thursday (local time), the US president lashed Chinese officials for their lack of transparency when the virus first emerged late last year.
"The world is paying a very big price for what they did," Mr Trump said.
The first cases of the COVID-19 virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year and since then there have been more than 9800 deaths globally connected to the illness.
China has been widely criticised for its decision to delay reporting the outbreak and for not disclosing enough information as the virus started spreading.
Trump claimed other countries would have been able to better prepare if they had known about the virus immediately.
"It would have been much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier," he said.
"It could have been contained to that one area in China where it started."
Mr Trump's reaction to China's handling of the pandemic has changed drastically in a short period of time.
Just two months ago the US President was praising China for its "transparency" surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
"China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency," he tweeted in January.
"It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"
But in recent days, Mr Trump's response to China has soured, with the US President repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus".
He told reporters on Tuesday that he was using the term because he didn't "appreciate" the suggestion from the Beijing officials that the US military played a role in the outbreak in China.
"I didn't appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them," Mr Trump said. "I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma."
However, Mr Trump's use of the term has sparked widespread outrage, with many claiming labelling the COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" was racist.
The US President defended his use of the term yesterday, saying it is "not racist at all" and he was simply calling it that because "it comes from China".
He has used the term repeatedly in his recent Twitter posts.
I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
Mr Trump's actions go directly against advise from the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the naming of diseases.
In guidelines laid out in 2015, Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Security, said while the name of the virus may seem trivial, it can have a major impact on certain groups.
"We've seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and trigger needless slaughtering of food animals," he said.
"This can have serious consequences for peoples' lives and livelihoods."
Dr Fukuda noted that some of the main terms that should be avoided in disease names include geographic locations, people's names and animal species.
Despite the growing backlash against China over the coronavirus crisis, President Xi Jinping has said he is prepared to "work with all other countries" to intensify the global fight against the pandemic, state media quoted the Chinese President as saying.
Mr Xi made the comments in a late-night telephone call with Russia's Vladimir Putin, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Chinese leader said Beijing was "willing to make concerted efforts with Russia and all other countries to … safeguard global public health security," the report added.
"China has the confidence, capacity and certainty to achieve the ultimate victory over the epidemic," Xinhua quoted Mr Xi as telling Mr Putin.
Originally published as Trump blasts China over handling of virus
I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the “borders” from China - against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
I will be having a news conference today to discuss very important news from the FDA concerning the Chinese Virus!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020