Pompeo again blasts China over its handling of coronavirus pandemic

Lalit K Jha

Washington, May 6 (PTI) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday again criticised China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the Communist nation could have prevented hundreds of thousands of deaths and spared the world dissent into global economic malaise if it had been more transparent.

Pompeo also sought to deflect questions about his Sunday's comment that there was 'a significant amount of evidence' that COVID-19 emerged from a Chinese lab.

The claim drew a fierce rebuttal from Beijing, which on Wednesday described the accusation as 'smear' intended to bolster President Donald Trump's re-election chances in November.

China dared Pompeo to show 'enormous evidence'.

'China saw them that it had and the merging public health crisis on its hands. They knew. China could have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. China could have spared the world dissent into global economic malaise. They had a choice, but instead, China covered up the outbreak in Wuhan,” Pompeo told reporters.

Pompeo alleged that China’s national health commission ordered virus samples to be destroyed on January 3.

“China disappeared brave Chinese citizens who raised alarms. It deployed its propaganda organs to denounce those who politely called for simple transparency, and that brings us to today 120 days on,” he said.

China, he alleged, is still refusing to share the information the US needs to keep people safe such as viral isolates, clinical specimens, and details about the patient zero.

“Our truth-telling calls for transparency aren't about politics; it's not about bullying; it's not about blame; it's about the ongoing need to save American lives. This is an ongoing threat today. Ask medical professionals in New York City, I think they will agree with that,” he said.

“We need countries to share reliable data in a timely way now and the next time that a calamity like this hits. We need reliable partners,” Pompeo said.

In recent days, President Trump and Pompeo have claimed that the deadly virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected last December.

The two leaders have also said that China has refused to give international scientists access to learn what happened.

“This is an ongoing challenge. We still don't have the samples that we need. We still don't have the access. ...they continue to deny access for this important information that our research, our epidemiologists need and importantly this could happen again,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said that the administration has laid out a timeline of what it has seen.

“It is pretty clear that at the front end of this the Chinese Communist Party misled the world, that is they knew more, and they didn't share that, and they had an obligation to do so under the international health regulations that--that they are required to adhere to underworld health obligation, world health organization's ruleset. They didn't do that,” he said.

The World Health Organisation also failed to do that, he alleged.

“It’s not only that they didn't enforce, but the WHO needs to still demand that there be an investigation,' he said.

According to Pompeo, as a result of China's choices, countries are starting to understand the risk of doing business with the Chinese Communist Party and taking action to protect their people. “The free nations of the world are starting to understand that China doesn't share those democratic values that we hold dear or their economic interests and that this matters to the entire world,” he said. PTI LKJ NSA