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President Trump on Thursday sought to refocus blame on China for its failure to contain coronavirus before it morphed into a global pandemic -- pushing back on propaganda efforts by the totalitarian Chinese government to blame the U.S.
"It could have been contained to that one area in China where it started," Trump said. "And certainly the world is paying a big price for what they did."
Earlier in the briefing he said that, “if people would have known about it it could have been stopped in place, stopped right where it came from, China,” he said, after calling it the “Chinese virus.”
Trump has ramped up his targeting of the Chinese government since it began an effort to try and pass the blame onto the U.S. by propagating conspiracy theories online. Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian wrote on Twitter last week: “When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals?”
Zhao went on to suggest that it “might be [the] US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan."
The State Department summoned the Chinese ambassador in response, and since then Trump has been more direct in calling the virus the “Chinese Virus” despite scoldings from media talking heads that to use such a term is racist and encourages discrimination against Asian-Americans.
Trump was grilled about the term Wednesday, and brushed off criticism.
"Because it's from China. It's not racist at all, no. Not at all. It comes from China," Trump said. "That's why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate."
He also made reference to China’s attempts to blame the U.S. for the outbreak.
"As you know China tried to say at one point, maybe they stopped now, that it was caused by American soldiers,” he went on to say. “That can't happen. it's not gonna happen. Not as long as I'm president. It comes from China."
Fox News' Tyler Olson and Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.