U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he believes China’s handling of the coronavirus is proof that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid in November.
In an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office, Trump said he was looking at different options in terms of consequences for China over the virus. “I can do a lot,” he said.
Trump has been heaping blame on China for a global pandemic that has killed at least 60,000 people in the United States according to a Reuters tally, and thrown the U.S. economy into a deep recession, putting in jeopardy his hopes for another four-year term.
The Republican president, often accused of not acting early enough to prepare the United States for the spread of the virus, said he believed China should have been more active in letting the world know about the coronavirus much sooner.
Asked whether he was considering the use of tariffs or even debt write-offs for China, Trump would not offer specifics. “There are many things I can do,” he said. “We’re looking for what happened.”
“China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” said Trump. He said he believes Beijing wants his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, to win the race to ease the pressure Trump has placed on China over trade and other issues.
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Trump also said South Korea has agreed to pay the United States more money for a defense cooperation agreement but would not be drawn out on how much.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool)