U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was “very, very saddened by what happened” to the U.S. relationship with China.
He made the comments during a White House meeting with industry executives shortly after he announced a series of measures against Beijing from the Rose Garden.
Watch the event in the player above.
In a multi-part announcement, Trump said he would withdraw funding from the World Health Organization, end Hong Kong’s special trade status and suspend visas of Chinese graduate students suspected of conducting research on behalf of their government.
Speaking in the State Dining Room, Trump again accused China of letting the novel coronavirus get “out of control.”
“I don’t know if it was incompetence or it was done for some other reason,” Trump said, but added, “They stopped it from going to China, but they didn’t stop it from going to the rest of the world. So nobody likes that. That was not good.”
The United States and China have experienced a souring of relations since the coronavirus spread across the globe, with Trump blaming Chinese leaders for the pandemic.
Asked if the world is now witnessing the start of a cold war between the two countries, Trump didn’t respond directly, saying only, “We’re certainly not happy with what happened with respect to China.”
Asked about the growing virus crisis in Brazil, Trump said the country is “having a hard time.”
But he said he didn’t want to be critical of President Jair Bolsonaro who has shunned social distancing measures and urged citizens to get back to their normal lives because he “went a different way.”
Brazil, with a population of about 210 million people, is the Latin American country hardest hit by the coronavirus, with more than 24,000 deaths and almost 400,000 confirmed cases. Experts say those figures are significantly underestimated due to insufficient testing.
The Trump administration instituted a travel ban on Brazil this week as the virus numbers continue to climb.
Trump said the ban will be lifted “as soon as we can.”