The Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday accused U.S. politicians of telling “barefaced lies” regarding China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, after President Trump suggested that the U.S. might seek damages from China because of the outbreak.
“American politicians have repeatedly ignored the truth and have been telling barefaced lies,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press conference. “They have only one objective: shirk their responsibility for their own poor epidemic prevention and control measures, and divert public attention.”
U.S, politicians should “reflect on their own problems and find ways to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible,” Geng added.
President Trump, who initially praised Beijing’s handling of the virus, on Monday said the U.S. could seek to hold China “accountable” for the outbreak.
“We are not happy with China,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We are not happy with that whole situation because we believe it could have been stopped at the source.”
The coronavirus has infected at least 3,000,000 people worldwide since it originated in Wuhan, China. According to one study, China could have prevented or at least slowed a wider outbreak of coronavirus if it had quarantined at-risk populations several weeks earlier.
U.S. officials have proposed various strategies to compel China to compensate Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic, whether through infection or loss of work due to business closures. Last week, Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt announced that his office would sue China for damages to state residents.
“I think as people take a look at the complaint, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if other states follow suit,” Schmitt told National Review.