China must be held accountable for the coronavirus pandemic — Kudlow

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China should be accountable for the coronavirus pandemic, according to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow in an interview with CNBC.

“On the China business, it’s up in the air. They are going to be held accountable for it. There’s no question about that. How, when, where and why — I’m going to leave that up to the president,” Kudlow said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

The US and other countries criticized China for a lack of transparency about the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was thinking of imposing new tariffs on China due to the country’s management of the outbreak.

The president claimed that the coronavirus emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. However, he did not present any evidence to back his claim.

“With respect to future tariff decisions and other measures, that’s going to be up to the president,” Kudlow said Friday.

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The US previously slapped Chinese imports with tariffs since they have been negotiating a multiphase trade deal. According to Kudlow, China is still executing the first phase of the deal. Meanwhile, the commodity purchases are moving slower because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Moreover, Kudlow stressed that the government was studying several incentives. One of which is paying moving costs, to bring American companies home from China. The coronavirus pandemic magnified the fact that crucial parts of the medical supply chain, such as personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals, are in China.

“We’d like these supply chains to be based here. I think to some extent we’ve seen the importance of that,” he said.

Kudlow denied reports that the administration would not pay government debt held by China to punish them for not handling the outbreak well.

“Full faith and credit of the United States’ debt obligation is sacrosanct. Absolutely sacrosanct,” Kudlow said. He added that the Trump administration did not want to do anything to ruin the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

Intentional hiding of coronavirus data

A CNN source revealed this week that according to a report from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), China intentionally concealed coronavirus data from the international community.

“China likely cut its exports of medical supplies prior to its January WHO (World Health Organization) notification that COVID-19 is a contagion,” the report states.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported administration claims that China made efforts to conceal the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak. This also involves hiding the stockpiling of medical supplies.

“You’ve got the facts just about right,” Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week”. The reporter asked him if China intentionally stockpiled medical supplies in early January.

“We can confirm that the Chinese Communist Party did all that it could to make sure that the world didn’t learn in a timely fashion about what was taking place.”

The DHS document reveals “in its communications, China intentionally concealed its trade activity by publicly denying it has ever imposed an export ban on masks and other medical supplies,” the source says.

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