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Trump says Washington may introduce new tariffs on Beijing for COVID-19 spread

It could be a way to punish China for the novel coronavirus spread

WASHINGTON, May 1. /TASS/. The US Administration is capable of introducing additional tariffs on products from China over the COVID-19 spread, but does not consider cancelling its debt obligations to Beijing, US President Donald Trump told a news conference.

Asked whether the United States would consider halting payments under its debt obligations to Beijing as a way to punish China for the novel coronavirus spread, the US president said: "Well, I can do it differently."

"I can do the same thing, but even for more money, just by putting on tariffs," Trump stated. "So, I don't have to do that."

"It's approximately $1 trillion, a little bit more as I understand it, $1 trillion," he said speaking about the debt obligations. "But we can do that in probably a little bit of a more forthright manner."

"You start playing those games [the cancellation of the debt], and that’s tough," Trump said. "You know, we have the dollar to protect. We want to protect the sanctity of the dollar, the importance of the dollar. It's the greatest currency in the history of the world."

"You say… we owe you a certain amount of money; we're going to keep it," he said. "But when you start playing that game, you're really hurting the sanctity, the importance of the greatest currency on the earth."

"But we can do it in other ways. We can do it with tariffs. We can do it other ways even beyond that without having to play that game. That's a rough game," Trump said.

The US president also said he was positive that the novel coronavirus originated from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, but declined to give details saying: "I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell you that."

Trump told reporters that the novel coronavirus "should have never been allowed to escape China" and that the Chinese authorities "should have stopped it at the source."

"We're finding out how it came in different forms...You've heard three or four different concepts as to how it came out. We should have the answer to that in the not-too-distant future," he said.

In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 3,300,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 234,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 1,000,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.