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Trump follows ‘British lead’ in China-bashing over virus spread: Expert

US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he departs the White House, on May 1, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump and his administration are following a “British lead” in accusing China that the new coronavirus was generated in a medical laboratory in Wuhan before spreading across the globe, says a political expert from Virginia.

Mike Billington, the director of Asia Desk at Executive Intelligence Review in Leesburg, made the remark on Press TV’s The Debate program while commenting on the US-China showdown about the origin of the flu-like pathogen and China’s reaction to US accusations.

Trump has been sharpening his rhetoric against China, claiming that there is evidence that Beijing created the new coronavirus in a medical lab. The claim goes against the US intelligence agencies that say they have seen no evidence to show the virus is “man-made.”

The New York Times has reported that the White House is putting pressure on American intelligence agencies to provide evidence in support of Trump’s claims.

The US administration “has been following a British lead actually. Most of these lies came out of people like Neil Ferguson in England who passed out the story that the Chinese were sending airplanes internationally after they shut down their domestic flights — total lie, which was proven to be a lie by a professor in Colombia — and the Henry Jackson Society in London which is virtually mobilizing for a war against China and the stuff is said in the US,” Billington said.

“We are in a pre-war situation with China right now because of this mania peddled by the neocons, by the British assets and so forth… This has got to be stopped,” he added.

In February, China's state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed rumors that the virus may have been artificially synthesized at one of its laboratories or perhaps escaped from such a facility.

Tony Gosling, an investigative journalist from Bristol, was the other panelsit invited to The Debate program, who denounced as “rich” the bashing of the United Kingdom in the coronavirus issue.

“We have not seen [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson pointing the finger at China and saying it’s a Chinese virus. I think what we are seeing is a little bit of projection in here to the UK as being the origin of all this,” Gosling said.

“There might be some think tanks here and I’m sure there are but they are blaming China for it, but actually the most vocal is Donald Trump himself and if he doesn’t believe that this is the virus that has been engineered by the Chinese, he shouldn’t say so. I think it’s a bit rich to blame the British for somehow controlling what’s coming out of the United States. You are pulling media,” he underlined.

Suggesting that Beijing has not been forthcoming about the disease, which has infected about 3.2 million people and killed over 227,000 across the world, Trump said Monday that there were many options to "hold them accountable."

The US president has also said imposing new tariffs on China is “certainly an option” in retaliation for the spread of the coronavirus.

US Democrats have criticized Trump since the epidemic erupted in Wuhan in December and January, saying he has failed to develop a comprehensive and effective plan for testing Americans for the coronavirus and tracing contacts of those who are infected by the virus that causes the sometimes fatal COVID-19 respiratory disease.

More than 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the US economy slid further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s.

Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the six weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors and slash their workforce. The economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20% — the highest rate since it reached 25% during the Great Depression.

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