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‘Meet halfway’ in fight against COVID-19: China on Trump’s threat to cut off ties

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Beijing:  China on Friday reacted guardedly to US President Donald Trump’s threat to “cut off” the bilateral relationship between the world’s top two economies and asked America to meet it halfway in the fight against the coronavirus.

Relations between the two countries nosedived after the coronavirus outbreak, which originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, and spread to other parts of the world.

The pandemic has claimed over 85,000 lives in the US, the highest in the world.

Trump, who has been pressing China to agree for an inquiry into the origin of the virus, including the allegation that it emerged from a bio-lab in Wuhan, further hardened his rhetoric on Thursday by threatening to cut off US ties with Beijing.

Reacting to Trump’s threat, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reacted guardedly, saying that the relationship is in the fundamental interest of the two countries.

“To maintain the steady development of China-US relations is in the fundamental interests of the people in both countries, and is conducive to world peace and stability,” Zhao said.

“At present, China and the US should continue to strengthen cooperation against the epidemic, defeat the epidemic as soon as possible, treat patients, and restore economy and production. But it requires the US to meet halfway with China,” Zhao said.

There has been increasing pressure on Trump from American lawmakers to take action against China.

“There are many things we could do … We could cut off the whole relationship,” Trump said on Thursday in an interview with Fox Business News.

“You’d save USD 500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship.” Trump said that his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping is “very good” but added: “right now I just don’t want to speak to him”.

Trump’s threat followed after China on Tuesday released a new list of US products which will be exempted from the second round of additional tariffs on American products.

Trump launched a trade war with China in 2018, demanding Beijing to reduce a massive trade deficit of over USD 539 billion.

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