DONALD TRUMP has told reporters he holds China “fully responsible for concealing the virus and unleashing it upon the world”.
The US President made the remarks at a White House press conference in which announced he had signed off on sanctions against China.
It comes in retaliation for the Far East nation’s introduction of an “oppressive” new security law in Hong Kong that allows political opponents to be extradited to Beijing for trial.
The President has also signed an executive order ending any preferential treatment for Hong Kong, which would now be afforded the same treatment as mainland China.
It comes as part of a wider offensive against the Republic for what the Trump administration view as a catalogue of failings in relation to coronavirus.
With cases of Covid-19 continuing to surge in the US, the Trump administration believes China is guilty of hiding crucial details and information on the human-to-human transmission of the virus.
Speaking at the press conference, the President also moved to suggest his election opponent Joe Biden’s record in dealing with the Far East nation was “a gift to the Chinese Communist Party”.
BREAKING: Trump signs China-sanctions bill targeting Hong Kong crackdown and an executive order to hold China accountable for 'oppressive actions' against people of Hong Kong pic.twitter.com/0xKlM5OnrM
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) July 14, 2020
The President also dismissed any suggestion of a trade deal between the US and China, despite previous talks proving promising.
"Look, we made a great trade deal — was done, the ink wasn’t even dry, and they hit us with the plague," he said. "So right now, I’m not interested in talking to China about another deal. I’m interested in doing other things with China."
The end of preferential treatment for Hong Kong means “no special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies” according to Trump, with the special treatment of Hong Kong passport holders also set to be revoked.
It comes amid concerns the new security laws could infringe on those already in place on the British colony designed to protect freedom of speech and the wider press until at least 2047.
Trump added: “Make no mistake. We hold China fully responsible for concealing the virus and unleashing it upon the world. They could have stopped it, they should have stopped it. It would have been very easy to do at the source, when it happened.”