President Donald Trump will not back off holding China’s feet to the fire for its mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened more than 3.5 million people around the world, the White House said.
White House chief deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Trump sees the Chinese ruling Communist Party as “culpable” for not sharing information about the deadly outbreak with other nations so that they could prepare.
“The president knows what’s going on here. He wants to make sure the American people are safe. He wants to make sure we can still work with nations,” Gidley said Monday on “Breitbart News Daily.” “But the world knows now what we have been saying is fact, and China is culpable in this, and they weren’t giving us the good information … even other countries now are pointing to the fact that they weren’t being truthful with the world, and that’s a serious problem for them, and that’s something we’re not going to forget.”
Gidley, who declined to go into detail on how Trump plans to hold China accountable, said the Chinese Communist Party’s failure to share information put the world at risk.
“If there’s a country not sharing that information and that data with the world, it becomes much more difficult to get out ahead of this and to develop vaccines, to mitigate, to know how to contact trace where things have come from,” he said.
Gidley also disputed a Wall Street Journal report that said some Trump administration officials said the president would hold off on punishing China if it abides by the first phase of a trade deal signed in January.
He said he hadn’t seen the article but that it “sounds inaccurate.”
“You’ve heard what the president has been saying about China. We’ve been tougher on China with the tariffs he put in place, with the deals he’s made, he actually was eyes wide open on China from day one,” Gidley said.
The newspaper reported on public comments made Monday by Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger that the “US isn’t looking at punitive measures here.”
Pottinger went on to say that the president will be “watching very carefully to make sure China holds up its end of the bargain.”
The article also quoted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was one of the main negotiators of the agreement.
“I have every reason to expect that they honor this agreement.” Failing to honor the agreement would result in “very significant consequences in the relationship and in the global economy as to how people would do business with them,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Mnuchin telling Fox Business.
White House chief deputy press secretary Hogan GidleyAlex Brandon/AP
Trump, in an Oval Office interview with the New York Post on Monday, said Chinese authorities are responsible for the spread of the coronavirus.
“I think the worst part of it was they could have extinguished the fire,” he said. “And they could have stopped people from traveling and extinguished the fire. And they did stop people from traveling to China, but not to other parts of the world. So it’s a very sad event, I will tell you.”