President Donald Trump has savaged the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His threat to “cut off the whole relationship” with China is consistent with a new, hard line being pushed by his administration.
“I’m very disappointed in China,” Trump said during an interview with Fox Business Network on Thursday. “We asked to go over and they said no,” he continued, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s February offer of assistance to the virus-stricken city of Wuhan.
“They didn’t want our help. And I figured that was OK because they must know what they are doing. So it was either stupidity, incompetence or deliberate.”
When asked what action he’d take against China, Trump replied: “There are many things we could do. We could cut off the whole relationship.” Citing the US’ trade deficit with China, Trump said that severing diplomatic ties with Beijing would “save $500 billion.”
The Republican party is banking on blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak. According to a strategy memo circulated last month, GOP campaigns across the US should “attack China,” and paint their Democratic rivals as “soft” on the East Asian superpower. As such, Trump’s messaging is perfectly on brand, and reminiscent of his frequent attacks on China during his 2016 campaign.