Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the People’s Republic of China on blast over its initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak during a news briefing Tuesday.
“We know this much: We know that the first government to be aware of the Wuhan virus was the Chinese government,” Pompeo said. “That imposes a special responsibility to raise the flag, to say, ‘We have a problem, this is different and unique and presents risk.’
“And it took an awful long time for the world to become aware of this risk that was sitting there, residing inside of China,” he said.
He added: “Every nation has a responsibility to share all of their data, all of their information in as timely and accurate a fashion as they have the ability to do not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because that’s how you save lives for your own people as well.”
The Chinese government is no exception, Pompeo argued.
“The Chinese Communist Party had a responsibility to do this not only for Americans and Italians and South Koreans and Iranians who are now suffering, but for their own people as well,” Pompeo said.
As of Thursday morning, there were more than 9,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., and at least 150 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University databoard.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia and three territories (Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) have reported cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Pompeo also accused the Chinese government of waging a disinformation campaign “to shift responsibility” for the spread of the coronavirus.
Multiple media outlets have previously revealed efforts by the Chinese government to cover up the coronavirus crisis before the rest of the world could find out about the new disease.
The cover-up reportedly included orders to destroy laboratory samples in late December.
And The New York Times reported that Xi knew of the COVID-19 outbreak for at least two weeks before he commented on it.
In addition to those efforts, the Chinese government punished a doctor who tried to sound the warning about the disease, as the Washington Examiner noted.
It is impossible to know how many lives could have been saved had the Chinese government been open about the virus from the start.
But the cover-up and efforts to shift blame have been roiling diplomatic relations between the United States and China.
One conspiracy theory pushed by Chinese officials and state-run media claims the United States Army was responsible for creating COVID-19.
“Look, the disinformation campaign that they are waging is designed to shift responsibility,” Pompeo said.
The secretary of state’s remarks will be very helpful in keeping the Chinese government from covering up its mishandling of the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in the coming months.
Pompeo has vowed, “There will come a day when we will go evaluate how the entire world responded.”
But evaluation alone will not be enough.
It must be followed by action to ensure accountability.
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