Trump demands 'reparations' from China over Covid: 'They must pay'

Trump demands ‘reparations’ from China over Covid: ‘They must pay’

Trump demands ‘reparations’ from China over Covid: ‘They must pay’

Trump demands ‘reparations’ from China over Covid: ‘They must pay’

Donald Trump has called for China to pay “reparations” to the United States for the damage done by Covid-19, which originated in the city of Wuhan.

At a rare speech to a Republican convention in Greenville, North Carolina, the former president said China should be presented with a bill for $10 trillion and all countries that owe money to the Asian superpower should cancel their debts “as a downpayment on reparations”.

And he said the US should put 100 per cent tariffs on all goods coming from China.

He said: “We demand reparations from the Communist Party of China. China must pay. They must pay.”

Mr Trump also claimed he was right to say that the coronavirus that swept the world from January last year, killing at least 3.7 million people, was deliberately created in a laboratory.

He said: “We had this horrible thing come in from China, we got that one right too by the way, do you notice, you see what’s going on , it’s called the lab, that was an easy one, Wuhan.”

There is still uncertainty over the origins of Covid-19, with some experts acknowledging that it could have been manmade rather than spread to humans either directly or indirectly by a bat.

As president, Mr Trump had an ambiguous relationship with China.

Although he initially boasted a close relationship with President Xi Jinping, and praised him for his handling of the Covid crisis in the early months, he also started a trade war with Beijing, setting a series of tariffs on Chinese goods.

He increasingly came to blame China for the pandemic, although Mr Trump himself faced intense criticism at home for his mishandling of the crisis and his repeated efforts to play it down, undermine public health messaging and blaming governors for shortcomings.

In his speech in North Carolina, one of his first public appearances since leaving office in January, the former president took credit for the vaccination programme which has since seen more than half of Americans getting at least one jab – although scepticism remains among many of his own supporters and Mr Trump himself chose to get his own vaccinations in private without any publicity.

He told a crowd of about 1,200 Republican members: “We have done an incredible job, mostly importantly with the vaccine coming up with it, incredible job.”

He then claimed that he deserved credit for making “somewhat of a bet” by investing billions of dollars into buying vaccine shots and equipment.

In a wide-ranging speech lasting almost 90 minutes, Mr Trump touched on issues including “cancel culture” and “critical race theory”, two favourite topics of conservative news broadcasters.

He hit out at New York US attorneys currently investigating his business, claiming that this was the latest in a series of what he called “witch-hunts”, citing the Mueller report into his campaign’s dealings with Russia – and his alleged obstruction of justice – and his two impeachments, first over Ukraine and his efforts to dig up dirt on political rivals, and then for inciting a riot at the Capitol to try to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.

Mr Trump went on to repeat unsubstantiated claims of cheating in the 2020 election, and backed a series of Republican measures across the country which critics say are designed to restrict voting – particularly by people of colour – and give the GOP an unfair advantage.

Responding to accusations that these measures constitute voter suppression, he said: “‘I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy, I’m the one who’s trying to save it. Please remember that.”

And he defended his controversial relationships with dictators including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, whom he courted in the hope of a breakthrough in relations which failed to bear fruit.

In a line that got the biggest laugh of the night, he said of the repressive dictator: “Kim Jong-un, he’s a different kind of a guy. It takes a different kind of guy to talk to him, too.”

His daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, told the crowd that she had decided against running for the North Carolina Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Richard Burr next year, saying her children were still too young. Ms Trump, who is married to the former president’s second son Eric, had been touted as a possible candidate to capitalise on the family surname. She left open the possibility of standing for office in the future.

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