Trump indicates climb down on use of Chinese virus

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Mar 27 (PTI) US President Donald Trump has indicated a climb down on the use of 'Chinese Virus' due to the origin of the deadly coronavirus, which has antagonised Beijing and several lawmakers and rights bodies.

Last week, President Trump said that China is responsible for the spread of the novel coronavirus and called the COVID-19 as the 'Chinese Virus'.

He insisted the term was accurate because the virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

'I don't have to say if they (Chinese) feel so strongly about it. We will see,” Trump told reporters at the White House ahead of his call with President Xi Jinping of China.

At the same time, he defended the use of the term for the deadly coronavirus, saying that it originated from China.

The virus that first emerged in China's Wuhan city in the Hubei province in December last year has spread to 175 countries, infected 531,860 people and has claimed 24,057 lives, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker.

After Trump indicated he was going to stop using the term, a reporter asked the president whether President Xi had asked him to stop referring to 'the Chinese virus.' 'Nobody spoke to me about it. I think it was fine, though,' Trump said, adding: 'I talk about the Chinese virus and I mean it. That's where it came from. If you look at Ebola, if you look at Lyme, Connecticut, look at all these horrible diseases, they seem to come with the name with the location. This was the Chinese virus.' His critics, in particular human rights bodies and the Democrats, allege that his recent remarks describing coronavirus as 'Chinese Virus” because of its origin, has created anti-Chinese atmosphere in the US. However, Trump has denied this.

Trump reiterated that he has a very good relationship with China.

'I'll have a call with President Xi of China, very good relationship. No, I didn't like when they came up...and it wasn't him, somebody at a lower level, mid-level, we found out pretty much. But they made a statement that our soldiers brought it into China. It came from China,” said the president.

China and the US have engaged in a war of words over the rapid spread of the deadly virus across the world.

On March 12, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had alleged that the US Army may have brought the deadly coronavirus to his country. Zhao’s tweet was accompanied by a video of a US health official saying that some of the people thought to have died of influenza were posthumously diagnosed as having had coronavirus or COVID-19.

During the briefing, President Trump also said that the US has just signed a very big deal with China. They are paying the US a lot of money in tariffs and other things.

“They never paid us ten cents. Look, China has taken advantage of the United States, until I came here, with Sleepy Joe Biden and Obama and Bush and everybody else. I'm not blaming them up. I'm blaming everybody,” he said alleging that they were allowed USD 500 billion a year they were taking out.

“We've changed it. Look, now we're taking in billions of dollars. And we gave some to our farmers because China... they targeted our farmers. Our farmers are very happy and our farmers got through a very rough (time). Because of what I was able to do, took the money from China and gave it to the farmers, and we had plenty left over after that,” he said The US is now going into a phase two negotiation with China.

'But we're getting 25 per cent on USD 250 billion and then we're getting a lot on money after that. So, we've never had a deal with China. China took advantage of the United States. And you know what? I don't blame China for that. I blame the people that were right here, because they should have never allowed it to happen. But the relationship with China has been a very good one,' Trump said. PTI LKJ AMS AMS