WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump expressed his “confidence” in China’s ability to tackle the novel coronavirus epidemic during talks with his Beijing counterpart Xi Jinping, the White House said.
Trump “expressed confidence in China’s strength and resilience in confronting the challenge of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak,” the White House said in a statement.
“The two leaders agreed to continue extensive communication and cooperation between both sides,” it said, following reports in Chinese state media that the two had spoken on the phone about the matter.
The statement also noted that the two leaders had discussed “the great achievement of the recent United States–China Phase One Trade Deal and reaffirmed their commitment to its implementation.”
Earlier in the day, a Chinese doctor who tried to warn the world about a new coronavirus died of the disease on Friday, prompting an outpouring of sorrow as the death toll passed 630 and Beijing declared a “people’s war” on the rapidly spreading pathogen.
Li Wenliang, 34, died in the early hours of the morning at the hospital where he worked and first raised the alarm about the new coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, hospital officials said.
An ophthalmologist, Li was one of eight people reprimanded by Wuhan police last month for spreading “illegal and false” information about the coronavirus, a flu-like pathogen that since triggered a global health emergency.
His messages to a group of doctors on Chinese social media warning of a new “SARS-like” coronavirus – a reference to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which killed almost 800 people around the world in 2002-2003 – triggered the wrath of Wuhan police. China was accused of trying to cover up SARS.
He was forced to sign a letter on Jan. 3 saying he had “severely disrupted social order” and was threatened with criminal charges.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had earlier sought to reassure his citizens and the world that China would beat the coronavirus.