U.S.-China tensions were high before the pandemic as the two countries took part in a yearslong trade war and finally started eyeing a bilateral deal before COVID-19 spread from Wuhan to the U.S.
"It's before plague and after plague. Right now, I view China differently than I did before plague," the president said in an interview on "Mornings with Maria."
The two countries have been trading jabs since COVID-19 forced states across the U.S. to implement lockdown restrictions — some of which are still in place nearly half a year later in an effort to contain its spread.
"They're running their country, and we're running our country, and we have other countries that treat us very badly. ... We have the new USMCA. We were in the process of straightening it out with China, but the plague came. But even before that, I had a complete deal with China, and four days before it was going to be signed, they broke it."
American and Chinese officials have blamed one another for the origins of the virus, though experts believe it was transmitted from an animal — specifically, a bat — to a human in Wuhan as early as November. The president and other senior administration officials have dubbed COVID-19 "the China virus" and "China plague."
The president last week signed an executive order banning U.S. companies from doing business with social media apps TikTok and WeChat and in July issued similar restrictions against five Chinese companies including Huawei, Hikvision and Dahua, citing national security concerns related to the country's 2017 National Intelligence Law.
"TikTok — I broke the deal — I said, 'You can't do business in the United States.' I also said to Huawei, 'You can't do business in the United States.' I also told our so-called allies ... if you go with Huawei, that's OK, but we're not going to be communicating ... because the intelligence goes right back to Beijing," Trump told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo.
He added that "there's been nobody tougher to China and Russia" than him "despite a media that's been bought out by China."
The Trump administration has retaliated against China's treatment of its Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang with sanctions against Chinese tech companies and individuals. It has also ended preferential treatment of Hong Kong since Beijing implemented a new security law in July that allows the Chinese government more control over the city-state and its residents.
"Hong Kong is a very complex problem because we've given them tremendous amounts of money in the form of incentives to make Hong Kong free—to make Hong Kong work, and to our detriment. So, I have taken all that back–all those incentives they had for the Hong Kong market in order to keep a certain amount of freedom over there knowing they have China looming over the top of them," Trump said.
China has sanctioned U.S. lawmakers in return as tension between the two countries escalates.
Additionally, American officials ordered China's Houston consulate to close in July in an effort "to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information" following reports that people were burning papers at the consulate. China, in return, told the U.S. to close its consulate in Chengdu two days later.