United States President Donald Trump bristled today at a reporter's question about police killing African Americans and defended the right to display the Confederate flag as he continued to play into racial divisions in an interview.

In the interview, Trump seemed taken aback when asked why African Americans are still dying at the hands of police.

"And so are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people," Trump told CBS's Catherine Herridge. "More white people, by the way. More white people."

There is no national database tracking police-involved shootings.

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But studies have shown that black Americans are much more likely to be killed by police, even though more whites — who represent a larger portion of the US population — are killed.


One study that examined the use of lethal force by law enforcement from 2009 to 2012, for instance, found that, while victims were a majority white at 52 per cent, they were disproportionately black at 32 per cent with a fatality rate 2.8 times higher among blacks than whites.

In the interview, Trump also defended the use of the Confederate flag, despite saying in 2015 that he believed the flag belongs in a museum.

"All I say is freedom of speech. It's very simple. My attitude is freedom of speech," Trump responded. "Very simple. Like it, don't like it, it's freedom of speech."

Asked whether he understood the flag is a painful symbol to many because it is a reminder of slavery, Trump responded that some "people love it," adding: "And I know people that like the Confederate flag and they're not thinking about slavery."


Meanwhile, in another rebuke of China, Trump signed legislation mandating sanctions for Chinese officials involved in Beijing's crackdown in Hong Kong and issued an executive order that ends US preferential treatment for Hong Kong.

The two actions are part of the Trump Administration's offensive against China for what he calls unfair treatment by the rising Asian superpower, which hid details about the human-to-human transition of the cornoavirus.

The almost daily Administration broadsides against China come as Trump is being criticised for the surge in Covid-19 cases in the US and as he works to portray his expected Democratic challenger, former Vice-President Joe Biden, as weak on China.

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US-China relations are at a low ebb. Since the two nations signed phase one of a trade deal, the talks are currently stalled with virtually no hope of restarting before the November election.

- AP