CHINA should waive some of America's $1 trillion of debt after "covering up" the coronavirus until it could no longer be contained, a senator has said.
Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, said China's actions had made the pandemic "worse than it ever would have been" and caused "tremendous" loss for the US.
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China has faced criticism for apparent attempts to cover up the coronavirus when it was first detected in the city of Wuhan late last year.
Reports have emerged of journalists who tried to cover the early stages of the pandemic having their materials confiscated and of people discussing it on social media being reprimanded by authorities.
One doctor who was detained after trying to raise the alarm, 33-year-old father-of-one Li Wenliang, subsequently died after contracting the virus while treating patients.
China has also been accused of underreporting the number of citizens who continue to die from the virus.
Speaking to AL radio WVNN’s The Jeff Poor Show, Senator Blackburn said: "[China] hid the information and were not transparent, that they blocked the World Health Organization and the CDC from coming into help.
“I will tell you I think we need to look at the fact that China owns over a trillion dollars of our debt.
“They like investing in us. Why do they like that? Because we are a safe debt for them — a safe place for them to put their money.
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"And knowing that they have made a global pandemic worse than it ever would have been because of their action — they should waive some of our debt.
"They have caused us a tremendous amount of loss of life, loss of businesses, suffering, inconvenience, shutting down our economy.”
Last week saw Congress pass a $2 trillion relief package intended to alleviate the impact of ongoing shutdowns across the US on the economy.
The package included $500 billion of loans and guarantees to businesses as well as state and local governments, $350 billion in loans to small companies, and $260 billion worth of emergency unemployment insurance.
Figures released today showed the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the US last week rose to 6.6m, doubling a record set the previous week.
Blackburn is an ally of President Trump, who spent much of his 2016 election campaign criticising America's longstanding trade deficit with China.
She continued: "We have borrowed $2 trillion to stabilize our economy. China will turn around and buy that debt. They’ll buy that.
"That’s where they’ll park their money. They’ll buy those bonds.
"They’re going to end up enriching themselves through a problem that they caused.”
The coronavirus has infected over 960,000 people and killed more than 49,000 since first breaking out in December.
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