The Trump administration is considering taking legal action against China after allegations surfaced that Beijing is hoarding medical supplies while the coronavirus crisis rages.
According to the New York Post, 3M and Honeywell — two manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) that have factories in China — informed the White House that China would not allow them to export the products they made there.
Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis told the Post that the White House may push back at China using legal channels.
“In criminal law, compare this to the levels that we have for murder,” Ellis said.
“People are dying. When you have intentional, cold-blooded premeditated action like you have with China, this would be considered first-degree murder.”
The White House could either file a formal complaint with the European Court of Human Rights or address the allegations at the United Nations, the Post reported.
But China on Sunday promised it would not restrict exports of medical supplies hours after The New York Post reported that the Trump administration was weighing legal action against Beijing for allegedly doing just that, reports the South China Morning Post.
“We will not forget that at the beginning of the fight against the epidemic, many countries gave us a helping hand,” Jiang Fan, from the department of foreign trade at the Ministry of Commerce, told a press conference on Sunday.
“Therefore, when the situation in China is getting better and overseas epidemic conditions are accelerating, we are willing to make relevant efforts on the basis of epidemic prevention and control to provide support and assistance … China does not and will not restrict the export of medical supplies,” Jiang said.
Supplies such as PPE, which include gloves, masks, and gowns, are running low at hospitals across the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic that, as of Sunday evening, had killed more than 9,600 Americans and infected more than 336,000.
Worldwide, there have been nearly 1.3 million cases and nearly 70,000 deaths.