US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday accused China of destroying live COVID-19 samples instead of sharing them and said that America stands with over 120 nations, including Australia, who have taken up the American call for an inquiry into the origins of the virus.
China banned beef exports and levied 80 per cent trariffs on barley from Australia as the country supported international call for an investigation into the pandemic that has claimed over 324,000 lives in the world and infected over 4.9 million people worldwide.
Pompeo said that China threatened Australia with economic retribution for the simple act of asking for an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus.
"That's not right. We stand with Australia and the more than 120 nations now who have taken up the American call for an inquiry into the origins of the virus, we can understand what went wrong and save lives now and in the future," Pompeo told reporters at a news conference.
"The Chinese Communist Party's response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan have accelerated our more realistic understanding of communist China. The party chose to destroy live virus samples instead of sharing them or asking us to help secure them," he said.
"The People's Liberation Army has claimed more features in the South China seas international waters, sank a Vietnamese fishing boat, threatened Malaysian energy prospector, and declared a unilateral fishing ban. The United States condemns these unlawful acts," he said.
He said that China also chose to pressure the World Health Organisation's Director General Tedros Adhanom into excluding Taiwan from this week's assembly in Geneva.
"I understand that Dr. Tedros' unusually close ties to Beijing started long before this current pandemic, and that is a deeply troubling," he said.
Pompeo said Chinese President Xi Jinping claimed this week that China is active with openness, transparency, and responsibility.
"I wish it were so. It's been 142 days since doctors at Wuhan Central Hospital first started sharing information about a SARS-like virus, and yet today as we also here this morning, Beijing continues to deny investigators access to relevant facilities, to withhold live virus samples, to censor discussions of the pandemic within China and much, much more," he said.
"The Chinese Communist Party wants to demonstrate real openness, real transparency it could easily hold press conference like this very press conference and allow reporters to ask him anything that they would like," he added.
Pompeo said that China's contributions dividing the pandemic are paltry compared to the cost that they have imposed on the world.
This plague has cost roughly 90,000 American lives. More than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs since March. Globally, 300,000 lives could be as much as $9 trillion dollars according to our estimates, cost imposition on the world by China's failures.
"The United States has responded with about $10 billion to benefit the international response everything from vaccine research to funding for preparedness efforts and humanitarian aid that is compared to a promise of USD 2 billion from the Chinese. I look forward to seeing them fulfill that USD 2 billion commitment," he said.
Pompeo said the media's focus on the current pandemic risks missing the bigger picture of the challenge that is presented by the Communist Party of China.
Noting that China has been ruled by a brutal authoritarian regime, a communist regime since 1949, he said that for several decades the US thought the regime would become more like America through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the WTO as a developing nation. "That didn't happen," he said.
"We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations. The whole world is waking up to that fact. Pew reported I think it was this past week that 66 per cent of Americans have an unfavourable view of China. That is a direct result of the Chinese Communist Party's choices, which are influenced by the nature of the regime, and the nature of that regime is not new," Pompeo said.