WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said he greatly respects China and shares a “very good” relationship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, but termed it “unfortunate” that the coronavirus began in the Communist nation and got out of control.
Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, Trump said he considered Xi as a friend and and asserted that the Chinese President respects the US.
“I have a very good relationship with China and with President Xi. I have great respect for President Xi. I consider him to be a friend of mine. It is unfortunate that this got out of control,” he said.
Trump reiterated that coronavirus originated from China.
“They (coronavirus) came from China, it got out of control. Some people are upset. I know – I know President Xi. He loves China. He respects the United States and I have to say I respect China greatly and I respect President Xi,” he said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the same press briefing that China’s delay in sharing information about the virus had created risks to people worldwide.
“We need to know immediately. The world is entitled to know. The Chinese government was the first to know of this risk to the world, and that puts a special obligation to make sure that data gets to our scientists, our professionals,” Pompeo told reporters at a White House news conference on Friday.
“When you see a delay in information flowing from the Chinese Communist Party to the technical people who we wanted to get into China immediately to assist in this, every moment of delay connected to being able to identify this risk vectors creates risk to the people all around the world,” he said.
Pompeo, a known critic of China, said he was not blaming Beijing, but the Chinese government was the first to know about the risk the virus presented.
“This is about moving forward to make sure that we continue to have the information we need to do our jobs,” he said.
“We need to make sure that even today the data sets that are available to every country, including data sets that are available to the Chinese Communist Party, or made available to the whole world. It’s an imperative to keep people safe,” Pompeo said.
“We talk about the absence of data sets, not being able to make judgments about what to do. This is also about transparency, this real-time information sharing isn’t about political games or retribution. It’s about keeping people safe,” he insisted.
US Health Secretary Alex Azar told the reporters that China informed America about the coronavirus in January.
“In January within two weeks of China’s notifying the WHO about the virus and with only 45 cases in China we began screening travellers from Wuhan. Then over time as the outbreak evolved the President restricted travel from China, Iran and Europe. Our health experts say that these measures have been truly effective at slowing the viruses spread to our shores,” Azar said.
Trump criticised China over the coronavirus this week, saying Beijing should have acted sooner to warn the world and dismissing criticism that his labelling it the “Chinese virus” was racist.
The Trump administration has rejected attempts by Chinese officials to blame the virus on the US military.
A total of 230 people had died in the US due to the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic by Friday evening. The number of confirmed cases has jumped to over 18,000, an increase of over 10,000 in less than 50 hours. Coronavirus cases have been reported in all the 50 States in the US and District of Columbia as well as Puerto Rico.
Globally, the death toll from the virus has risen to 11,397 with more than 275,427 cases reported in over 160 countries and territories, according to Johns Hopkins University tracker.