Trump warns China could face consequences for coronavirus outbreak

U.S. President Donald Trump warned China that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak.

“It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” Trump told a daily White House briefing.

It was the latest U.S. volley in a war of words between the world’s two biggest economies, showing increased strains in relations at a time when experts say an unprecedented level of cooperation is needed to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

“If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences,” Trump said. He did not elaborate on what actions the United States might take.

Trump and senior aides have accused China of a lack of transparency after the coronavirus broke out late last year in its city of Wuhan. This week he suspended aid to the World Health Organization accusing it of being “China-centric.”