The US would announce "certain decisions" on China on Friday, President Donald Trump has said as he emphasised that Beijing should have stopped the coronavirus at the source. Led by the US, several countries in the world have blamed China for the spread of coronavirus and its failure to provide timely information about the disease, leading to the death of over three lakh people and causing an unprecedented economic crisis.
Trump 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 the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The disease has killed nearly 360,000 people globally, including 102,000 in America alone. Over 5.8 million people have been infected by the COVID-19 worldwide with 1.7 million in the US alone.
"Tomorrow, we're going to be having a press conference on China. So, we'll be making certain decisions and we'll be discussing them tomorrow," Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. "It's a very sad situation. It should have never happened. China should have stopped it at the source, but they didn't do that," Trump said.
Trump in the last several weeks has been very critical of China's inability to control the spread of the novel coronavirus within its territory. He has so far not given any indication of the steps that he is contemplating taking against China. Trump had on May 14 threatened to "cut off the whole relationship" with China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 16 had said that President Trump will decide on the future course of action on penalising China, a day after Trump said that he does not want to talk to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping right now. However, China has rejected all US allegations of a cover up regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, several US senators sent a letter to the United Nations permanent representatives for Estonia and France, the current and incoming president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in support of the US' call for an immediate UNSC meeting on recent actions taken by the Chinese government to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy. "In your nations' capacities as the current and incoming president of the UNSC, we write to strongly support the USUN's call for an immediate UNSC meeting on recent actions taken by the Chinese government to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and infringe on the rights and freedoms promised to the Hong Kong people," the senators wrote in the letter.
China last week introduced the draft of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong in its parliament to tighten Beijing's control over the former British colony, in what could be the biggest blow to the territory's autonomy and personal freedoms since 1997 when it came under Chinese rule. Hong Kong, an economic powerhouse, is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. It has observed a "one country, two systems" policy since Britain returned sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms the rest of China does not have.
The US over the last few days has expressed concerns over the new Chinese law on Hong Kong and has indicated taking steps against it. "The People's Republic of China's actions with regard to Hong Kong are a clear violation of its binding international commitments, including the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, and undermine the ability for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to remain in force in Hong Kong as guaranteed by Hong Kong's Basic Law," the members said.
"These actions warrant the immediate attention of the UNSC. We hope in your capacities as the current and incoming President of the UNSC, you will support this call for a virtual meeting at the UNSC without delay," they said in the letter. In another statement, a bipartisan group of Congressmen applauded the House passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (S.3744).
This bipartisan bill is an important step in countering the totalitarian Chinese government's widespread and horrific human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), including the mass internment of over one million Uyghurs and other predominantly ethnic Turkic Muslims, as well as Beijing's intimidation and threats against US citizens and legal permanent residents on American soil. S. 3744 now goes to President Trump for signature.
"The Chinese Communist Party's actions in Xinjiang are an affront to humanity and the CCP must pay a heavy price for these heinous crimes," said Senator Cory Gardner. "The mass internment and forced labour of Uyghurs is one of the greatest ongoing tragedies of our time. With passage of this bill, the US Congress stated loud and clear that we will hold the CCP and its enablers responsible, pursuant to my Asia Reassurance Initiative Act and other relevant US laws," he said.