United States President Donald Trump has warned China that it should face consequences if it was "knowingly responsible" for the spread of the novel coronavirus, upping the ante on Beijing over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump, who has expressed disappointment over China's handling of the coronavirus disease, alleged non-transparency and initial non-cooperation from Beijing with Washington on dealing with the crisis.
"If they were knowingly responsible, yeah, then there should be consequences. You're talking about, you know, potentially lives like nobody's seen since 1917," he told reporters at a White House news conference on Saturday.
Trump said his relationship with China was very good till the time the deadly COVID-19 swept across the world.
"The relationship was good when we were signing that, but then, all of a sudden, you hear about this. So, it's a big difference. You know, the question was asked would you be angry at China. Well, the answer very well might be a very resounding yes, but it depends," Trump said.
The president underlined that there was a big difference between a mistake that got out of control and something done deliberately.
"In either event, they should have let us go in. You know, we asked to go in very early and they didn't want us in. I think they knew it was something bad and I think they were embarrassed," Trump said.
He claimed that China was pitching for former vice president Joe Biden, who is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the presidential election.
"If sleepy Joe Biden wins, China will own the United States," Trump said, adding that his administration had gained billions of dollars from China due to his assertive trade policies.
The president said the coronavirus crisis had hurt everybody.
"We had the greatest economy in the world by far. China isn't even close. Go back two months. And we're going to keep it that way," he said.
Trump also asserted that Iran was now a much different country than it was before.
"When I first came in, Iran was going to take over the entire Middle East," he said. "Right now, they just want to survive."
The United States has slammed China for the "delay" in sharing information with its technical experts on the deadly coronavirus.
China's ruling Communist Party poses a "substantial threat" to Americans' health and their way of life, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month, blasting Beijing for engaging in the intentional "disinformation campaign" and trying to deflect from its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on Friday denied any cover up and accused the US of attempting to divert public attention.
"There has never been any concealment, and we'll never allow any concealment," Zhao Lijian told a media briefing.
According to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University, over 35,000 people have died in the US and the country has 734,969 infections, the highest in the world.
The death toll in China is 4,632 with no fatalities reported on Saturday, according to China's National Health Commission.
Globally, 160,721 people have died and over 2.3 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University.