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Tensions have ratcheted up between Washington and Beijing as they trade barbs over the origin of the pandemic.
U.S. President Donald Trump further hardened his rhetoric towards China Thursday, saying he no longer wishes to speak with Xi Jinping and warning that he might cut ties over the rival superpower's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tensions have ratcheted up between Washington and Beijing as they trade barbs over the origin of the pandemic –which first appeared in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and which Trump has dubbed the "Plague from China."
"I have a very good relationship (with Xi), but I just – right now, I don't want to speak to him," Trump said of the Chinese president on Fox Business.
Asked how the United States might choose to retaliate, Trump gave no specifics but struck a threatening tone, saying: "There are many things we could do. We could do things. We could cut off the whole relationship."
"If you did, what would happen?" Trump asked. "You'd save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship."
Trump has, for weeks, accused China of concealing the actual scale of the outbreak, allowing it to spread unchecked across the globe –and claim the lives of 300,000 people to date.
Beijing vehemently denies the charge, insisting it transmitted all available data as soon as possible to the World Health Organization.
But Trump doubled down, insisting: "They could have stopped it. They could have stopped it in China where it came from. But it didn't happen that way."
"It's very sad what's happened to the world and to our country, with all of the deaths," he said.
However, despite the constant threats and attacks by the United States on China that some analysts have described as xenophobic and racist, the Trump government has received several criticisms for how he has handled the virus situation in the country. The United States has been most affected by COVID-19, with more than 85,066 dead and 1,400,500 infected, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
"China is a victim. China is not a culprit," China's ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, told Sky News.
Meanwhile, the U.S.-Chinese standoff over the pandemic has raised questions over the fate of a partial trade deal inked in January that had marked a truce in the bruising war between the world's top two economies.