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Trump Eyes China Crackdown as Coronavirus Retribution


President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he departs on Marine One, May 14, 2020, in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is eyeing ways to crack down on China as retribution for the way it handled the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

"There are many things we could do," Trump told Fox News. "We could cut off the whole relationship."

"Now, if you did, what would happen?," Trump asked rhetorically. "You’d save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship," although it was not clear how Trump arrived at such a figure.

The Trump administration has been considering ways it could punish Beijing for what it believes was its withholding of information about the virus late last year and into early 2020 as it spread from the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China across the globe.

The U.S. could give Americans to right to sue China for the damage COVID-19 has caused to the world-leading American economy and to human life. The U.S. already has recorded 84,000 deaths, by far the biggest national total, with 147,000 expected to die by August.

The U.S. could also impose sanctions and travel bans, while restricting U.S. businesses from making loans to Chinese companies.

“I’m very disappointed in China,” Trump said.

The U.S. could force Chinese companies to follow U.S. accounting standards before their securities are listed on U.S. exchanges, which they currently are not required to do. That has led to some investor losses.

The president acknowledged that if the U.S. were to impose such an accounting requirement on Chinese companies many of them would leave for exchanges in Hong Kong or London.

As of early 2019, 156 Chinese companies worth $1.2 trillion were listed on American stock exchanges.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration ordered a retirement fund for U.S. government workers to divest $4 billion of equity stakes in Chinese companies, claiming China poses investment and national security risks.

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