Peter Navarro, a top adviser to President Trump, said the Chinese Communist Party’s lies about the spread of the coronavirus overshadow the trade deal between Beijing and Washington.
The director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy said Americans need to understand that “China lied, people died.”
“There is this bigger issue that China spawned the virus and they hid the virus for about six weeks, which allowed that virus to escape Wuhan and infect the world, and then during that time, China hoarded an enormous amount of personal protective gear,” Navarro said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Monday. “They essentially went around the world vacuuming up over two billion masks.”
He emphasized that “those are the bigger issues around this context of what may or may not happen with the trade deal and I do think at this point, that’s a much bigger issue.”
There are now more than 3.6 million cases worldwide and the death toll has surpassed 250,000.
Navarro was commenting on whether the Trump administration has seen any sign from China that it will not be able to follow through on a pledge to buy $200 billion worth of American goods over two years, as spelled out in phase one of the trade deal with the US.
He said he didn’t think Beijing would meet its promise, but noted that he has been focused on the supply chain rather than the trade deal.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue were monitoring those developments, he said.
The deal that Trump signed on Jan. 15 sought to ease tensions between the two global powers that had been rising since the president accused China of taking advantage of the US through unfair trade policies.
The deal addresses some of Trump’s main concerns, including intellectual property theft and access to Chinese markets.
Trump has blasted Chinese officials for deliberately hiding the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak and not accurately reporting the number of the cases in the country.
He also said he’s seen evidence that the pandemic began in a lab in Wuhan, China.
Navarro echoed Trump’s concerns in the interview.
“It’s what did China know? When did they know it? Did the Communist Party bleach the wet market to hide something? Did they make scientists disappear from those labs in Wuhan to hide something?” Navarro said.
He also said it’s important that the US shift the supply chain of goods from China back to America, and pointed out that GM was working to make much-needed ventilators for hospitals treating people with the coronavirus.
“We need to do the same thing for things like pharmaceuticals, we need to do the same things for medical supplies like masks, and we are seeing that,” Navarro said.
“So Buy American is going to be the law of the land I believe soon,” he added.