US President, Donald Trump, on Thursday threatened to impose new tariffs against Beijing, claiming to have seen evidence linking COVID-19 to a lab in Wuhan.
Trump insisted he was confident COVID-19 may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, though he refused to describe the evidence.
When asked at the White House on Thursday if he had seen evidence that gave him a “high degree of confidence” the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Trump answered, “Yes, yes I have,” but when asked to give specifics, he retorted, “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
The Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegations, and other U.S. officials do not appear to agree with Trump. The preponderant believe at the moment was that the virus originated in a market selling wildlife in Wuhan and jumped from animals to people.
The outbreak of the disease has caused the deepening of rift between the Trump administration and China, with Beijing suggesting the U.S. military might have brought the COVID-19 to China and Trump saying China failed to alert the world to its risks in a timely and transparent fashion.
Trump also said on Thursday it was possible that China either could not stop the spread of the virus or let it spread. He declined to say whether he held Chinese President Xi Jinping responsible for what he feels is misinformation about the emergence of the COVID-19.
Reuters quoted Trump to have told its reporter in an interview on Wednesday that he was looking at different options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the virus. “I can do a lot,” he was said to have said.
When asked about reports that he could cancel US debt obligations to China in the row over the origins of COVID-19, Trump was quoted to have said he “can do it with tariffs.”
(Judicial Sketch with AFP and REUTERS)