Thursday 21 May 2020 7:19 am

Trump ratchets up China tensions with coronavirus 'propaganda' claims

President Donald Trump ramped up his war of words with China overnight, accusing his counterpart Xi Jinping of orchestrating a “disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe”.

Saying “it all comes from the top”, Trump also said China was “desperate” for Democrat Joe Biden to beat Trump to win the 2020 presidential election.

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“China is on a massive disinformation campaign because they are desperate to have Sleepy Joe Biden win the presidential race so they can continue to rip-off the United States, as they have done for decades, until I came along!” Trump tweeted.

“Spokesman speaks stupidly on behalf of China, trying desperately to deflect the pain and carnage that their country spread throughout the world. Its disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe is a disgrace….”

“It all comes from the top. They could have easily stopped the plague, but they didn’t!”

Trump has increasingly directed his rhetoric China’s way as the coronavirus toll gets worse in the US.

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So far the US has counted 1.6m infections and 93,558 deaths from the pandemic.

Trump is now trying to reopen the economy to combat a looming recession and massive levels of unemployment.

China has denied Trump’s charges that it is trying to wreck his reelection hopes and has retaliated with claims Trump is trying to distract attention from administration’s failures to tackle coronavirus.

However, traders sent Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng indexes marginally down in overnight trading as the angry rhetoric sparks more fears over the US-China relationship.

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The pair had seemed close to resolving their bitter trade war at the start of the year, reaching a so-called phase one deal in January. 

Now those tensions are mounting again. Beijing condemned secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s rare message to Taiwan as “wrong and very dangerous” on Wednesday. Later the White House criticised China’s economic and military policies in a report to Congress.

And yesterday the Senate passed legislation that could stop Chinese firms like Alibaba and Baidu holding listings on US stock exchanges.