‘They could have stopped the plague’: Trump says China trade deal unlikely after coronavirus

President Trump said Friday that brokering a trade deal with China is unlikely due to its botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think about it now,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.

“The relationship with China has been severely damaged,” he said. “They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped it, they didn’t stop it. They stopped it from going into the remaining portions of China from Wuhan province. They could have stopped the plague, they didn’t.”

When a reporter pressed Trump on whether there would be a new trade deal, Trump said, “Honestly, I have many other things in mind.”

The virus has sickened more than 3 million Americans, killing 133,000 and leaving tens of millions at least temporarily unemployed.

Trump is considering many anti-China policies, including banning the TikTok social media platform, which is hugely popular among US teens, but which officials claim could pipe data to China’s Communist leaders.

Before the pandemic, Trump waged an aggressive trade war with China, ramping up tariffs on a wide range of goods to force China to agree to a deal that protects US intellectual property and removes Chinese policies that favor domestic companies.

As COVID-19 began to spread to other countries, a large Chinese delegation headed by Vice Premier Liu He visited the White House on Jan. 15 to sign a “phase one” trade deal.

The phase-one deal paused escalation of tariffs, committed China to buy US goods, including agricultural products, and recognized recent Chinese steps to allow more foreign investment and protect intellectual property.

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