President Trump said China’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis is proof that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his reelection bid and help Democrat Joseph R. Biden win the presidency in November.
In an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office on Wednesday night, the president said he believes the Chinese government wants Mr. Biden to win the race to ease Mr. Trump’s get-tough approach to China on trade and other issues.
“China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re constantly using public relations to try to make it like they’re innocent parties.”
The president and his reelection team are waging a strategy of portraying Mr. Biden as soft on China, also hoping to exploit Mr. Biden’s role in business deals for his son Hunter with Beijing.
“China wants Sleepy Joe sooo badly,” Mr. Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding, “Joe is an easy mark, their dream candidate!”
For three years, Mr. Trump has referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as his friend. He hosted Mr. Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and sought his help in pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
The two leaders also maintained a good relationship through protracted trade negotiations that included escalating retaliatory tariffs.
But in January, the virus spread from Wuhan, China, to the U.S., has killed more than 60,000 Americans and thrown the U.S. economy into a deep recession, imperiling Mr. Trump’s reelection prospects.
In recent weeks, the president has blasted Chinese officials for failing to warn the rest of the world about the true risks of the outbreak. Mr. Trump griped Wednesday that Chinese officials never mentioned the dangers to him when he hosted them at the White House in mid-January to sign a major trade deal.
The president has asked U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate China’s culpability in the crisis, as well as the actions of the World Health Organization, which Mr. Trump calls “a pipe organ for China.”
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he is already receiving some findings from the investigation, and said he plans to recommend unspecified actions against the WHO and Beijing.
“I can do a lot,” he told the news service. “There are many things I can do. We’re looking for what happened.”