New York(ANN)-US President Donald Trump says he is not interested in talking with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in what seems to be a further degeneration of Washington-Beijing ties amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking in an interview with Fox Business Network broadcast on Thursday, Trump said that he might even decide to sever relations between the two countries.
Trump, who has repeatedly accused China of failing to contain the highly contagious disease, said Beijing’s failure had cast a pall over his January trade deal with the world’s second largest economy.
“They should have never let this happen,” Trump said. “So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me.”
“I just – right now I don’t want to speak to him,” Trump said in the interview taped on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Li Yong, deputy chairman of the Expert Committee of the China Association of International Trade, said that “(China) still hopes that economic and trade issues will not be politicized because that is not good for either side.”
“The hope is that both sides will resolve the challenges through communication rather than finger pointing,” Yong said.
When Trump was asked about a Republican senator’s suggestion that US visas be denied to Chinese students seeking to study in fields related to national security, he said, “There are many things we could do. We could do things. We could cut off the whole relationship.”
“Now, if you did, what would happen? You’d save $500 billion,” Trump said in reference to estimated US imports from China annually, which he often calls lost money.
Trump and his Republican supporters have repeatedly accused Beijing of failing to let the world know about the severity and scope of the coronavirus outbreak. China, however, insists it has been transparent.
Opponents of Trump, on the other hand, have said the Republican president seeks to deflect attention from his administration’s mishandling of the pandemic, which has so far affected more than 1,448,400 and killed over 86,460 people across the US.
Trump also said that China should have stopped the virus at its source. “Whether it came from the lab or came from the bats, it all came from China, and they should have stopped it.”
US intelligence agencies have previously, however, confirmed the coronavirus does not appear man-made or genetically modified, refuting the theory promoted by some Trump backers.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accused China of trying to steal US intellectual property and data pertaining to coronavirus research.
Washington condemns such attempts by China-linked “cyber actors and non-traditional collectors affiliated,” Pompeo said.
“While the United States and our allies and partners are coordinating a collective, transparent response to save lives, the PRC continues to silence scientists, journalists, and citizens, and to spread disinformation, which has exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis,” Pompeo said in a statement.
A day earlier, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement to raise awareness against what they described as threats to virus-related studies from actors related to China.