Top Chinese official calls Donald Trump’s demand for reparations over coronavirus ‘blackmail’ and says U.S. had plenty of notice crisis was coming

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Trump demanded Monday that China pay compensations for damages caused by coronavirus, which he says could have been avoided if Beijing had been more forthcoming about the severity of the disease. PHOTO/COURTESY

By DailyMailUK for Lolwe digital

China suggested Tuesday that Donald Trump is ‘blackmailing’ them by blaming Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic and demanding it pay compensations to the U.S.

Le Yucheng, China’s Executive Vice Foreign Minister, told NBC News in an interview that aired Wednesday morning that Trump’s demands are ‘preposterous’ and present a ‘political farce.’

‘Asking China to make reparations for these kind of claims – they have no legal basis. There is no international law that supports blaming a country for simply being the first to report a disease,’ Le said.

Trump demanded during his briefing Tuesday that China pay reparations to the U.S. for coronavirus damages, but said a final number for billing had not yet been decided. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he is reassured that other countries are also launching investigations into China’s early handling of coronavirus and demanding compensations – and he dismissed Le’s comments as ‘classic communist disinformation.’

‘What the Chinese Communist Party did here and not preventing the spread of this around the world they’re responsible for, America needs to hold them accountable,’ Pompeo told Fox & Friends Wednesday morning.

China’s Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng (pictured) likened Donald Trump demanding compensation for coronavirus outbreak from China to ‘blackmail’

‘I’ve been heartened to see Australia, other countries joining us, demanding an investigation because while we know this started in Wuhan, China,’ he said. ‘We don’t yet know from where it started, and in spite of our best efforts to get experts on the ground, they continue to try and hide and obfuscate. That’s wrong.’

‘It continues to pose a threat to the world, and we all need to get to the bottom of what actually happened here not only for the current instant but to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,’ the State Department head continued.

While Le, 57, said in the interview, which was conducted in Mandarin, that he would not object to scientific investigations into the virus’ origins, he demanded it be kept away from ‘conspiracy theories.’

‘We do not oppose normal communication and mutual learning between scientists,’ he said. ‘What we do oppose is arbitrary investigations based on the presumption of China’s guilt. That is something we firmly oppose.’

Trump has shifted his tone from praising China for its handling of coronavirus, to blaming the Asian nation for exacerbating the severity by failing to be transparent about the disease earlier on in the outbreak.

‘I want to say China has not covered anything up. We did not cause any delay,’ Le said.

He also has lauded his own decision to ban travel from China to the U.S. in the midst of the outbreak despite political pushback since it was early on in the pandemic before the real threat was known.

Le told NBC News that Trump is trying to politicize the virus and rejected any accusations that China tried to cover up the initial outbreak.

Instead, he referred to the pandemic as a ‘natural disaster’ and insisted Beijing cannot be held financially liable for COVID-19.

‘On Jan. 23 when Wuhan went under lockdown, the United States reported only one confirmed case, but on March 13 when President Trump announced a national emergency, the United States reported over 1,600 confirmed cases,’ Le said in deflecting blame away from Beijing.

‘In this interval of 50 days, what was the U.S. government doing? Where have those 50 days gone?’ he continued.