President Donald Trump said on Monday that the United States is investigating China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and may seek hundreds of billions in damages from Beijing.
“There are a lot of ways you can hold them [China] accountable. We’re doing very serious investigations … And we are not happy with China,” Trump told a press briefing at the White House Rose Garden.
Trump added: “We are not happy with that whole situation because 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.”
The issue of seeking compensation from China was brought up when Trump was asked by a reporter about a German newspaper editorial, which wanted China to foot a 130 billion pound bill (about $163 billion) for loss to Germany caused by the pandemic.
“We can do something much easier than that,” Trump answered.
The editorial, published by Germany’s largest newspaper Bild, published an “invoice” for Germany’s damages, which included $26 billion in lost tourism revenue from March to April.
“Germany is looking at things and we’re looking at things,” Trump said. “And we’re talking about a lot more money than Germany is talking about.”
The president said that the final amount has yet to be determined, but would be very substantial.
“This is worldwide damage,” Trump said, before adding, “This is damage to the U.S., but this is damage to the world.”
The CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has since spread to over 200 countries and territories, causing more than 56,200 deaths in the United States alone.
The Chinese regime initially concealed the virus outbreak, including the silencing eight doctors who took to Chinese social media to warn people about a new form of pneumonia in late December.
In early January, a provincial health commission official in China’s Hubei Province told a genomics company to halt testing virus samples and destroy all existing samples.
Also on Monday, two U.S. senators pointed to China’s cover-up of the virus after the Chinese ambassador to Australia threatened economic retaliation after Australia called for members of the World Health Organization (WHO) to support an independent review into the origins and the spread of the virus.
“China’s Communist government is grasping at straws,” tweeted Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). “They are desperate to hide their role in spreading the coronavirus.”
Todd Young (R-Ind.) wrote in a tweet: “If the CCP have nothing to hide, why make this threat?”
In a news briefing on April 22, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States “strongly believed” the CCP had failed to report the outbreak “in a timely fashion” to the WHO.
“It [the CCP] didn’t report sustained human-to-human transmission for a month until it was in every province inside of China,” Pompeo said.
Taiwan’s health officials warned the WHO about the virus’s risk of human-to-human transmission in late December.
The WHO initially repeated Beijing’s claim that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” on Jan. 14. Beijing didn’t admit the virus was contagious until Jan. 20.