Failure to stop coronavirus at source led to 184 countries 'going through hell: Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump doubled down on China for failing to tame the coronavirus at its very origin, saying it has led to 184 countries "going through hell", as several American lawmakers demanded steps to reduce dependence on Beijing for manufacturing and minerals.
Trump has been publicly blaming China for the global spread of the "invisible enemy" and launched an investigation against it. He has also indicated that the US may be looking at "a lot more money" in damages from China than the USD 140 billion being sought by Germany from Beijing for the pandemic.
Leaders of the US, the UK and Germany believe that the deaths and the destruction of the global economy could have been avoided, had China shared the information about the virus in its early phases.
"It's in 184 countries, as you hear me say often. It's hard to believe. It's inconceivable," Trump told reporters at White House Tuesday. "It should have been stopped at the source, which was China. It should have been stopped very much at the source, but it wasn't. And now we have 184 countries going through hell.”
The virus, which originated in China's Wuhan city in mid-November, has killed more than two lakh people and infected over three million globally. The largest number of them are in the US: nearly 59,000 deaths and over one million infections.
The massive outbreak in the US has put Trump under increasing pressure from American lawmakers to decrease US dependence on Beijing and they have also sought compensation from China.
Senator Ted Cruz and his colleagues have urged Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to support the development of a fully domestic supply chain of rare earths and other minerals that are critical for manufacturing defence technologies and supporting national security.
“It is clear that our dependence on China for vital rare earths threatens our US manufacturing and defence-industrial base. As the October 2018 Defence Industrial Base Report states: ‘China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials deemed strategic and critical to US national security.' [...] Ensuring a US supply of domestically sourced rare earths will reduce our vulnerability to supply disruptions that poses a grave risk to our military readiness," the Senators wrote.
The US is 100 percent import-dependent for rare earths as well as 13 other metals and minerals on the US Government Critical Minerals List and more than 75 percent import reliant for an additional 10 minerals.
Congressman Brian Mast on Tuesday introduced a legislation to hold China accountable for its "coronavirus deception". The resolution would empower the US to withhold payments on debts owed to China equal to the costs incurred by the US in response to COVID-19.
“China's total lack of transparency and mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has cost tens of thousands of lives, millions of jobs and left untold economic destruction. Congress must hold China accountable for their cover-up and force them to pay back the taxpayer dollars that have been spent as a result,” Mast said.