Donald Trump backed US intelligence claims that China underreported coronavirus cases and deaths.
The president said China’s ‘numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side’ at his coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday.
‘And I’m being nice when I say that, relative to what we witnessed and what was reported. But we discussed that with (China’s President Xi Jinping), not so much the numbers, but what they did and how their doing.’
Trump went on to call his relationship with President Xi ‘very good’ and said after the coronavirus crisis ends China will ‘be spending $250 billion dollars buying our product, $50 billion to the farmers alone.’
‘As to whether or not their (coronavirus) numbers are accurate, I’m not an accountant from China,’ Trump said without elaborating.
The White House officials, who chose not to be identified, told Bloomberg that China’s public record of Covid-19 cases is intentionally ‘incomplete.’
Chinese officials say the death toll at the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan was just over 3,000 but locals have claimed the number is closer to 42,000.
Trump has not held back in his criticism towards China during the global health emergency. For weeks, the president referred to coronavirus as the ‘China virus,’ pinning blame on the communist country where the outbreak started. He has also hit out against conspiracy theories coming from China that claim US soldiers brought the virus to Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease.
On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence blamed the America’s late response to the coronavirus crisis on both China and the US Centers for Disease Control.
‘The reality is that we could’ve been better off if China had been more forthcoming,’ Pence, who is the head of the White House coronavirus task force, said.
‘The reality is that China’s been more transparent with respect to the coronavirus than certainly they were for other infections diseases over the last 15 years.’
‘But what appears evident now is long before the world learned in December, China was dealing with this, maybe as much as a month earlier than that.’
The vice president also attacked the CDC for ‘still assessing that the risk of the coronavirus to the American people was low’ in mid-January.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the US has confirmed more than 211,000 coronavirus cases and 4,700 deaths caused by the virus.
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