U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday renewed the Trump administration’s criticism of China’s early handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We strongly believe that the Chinese Communist Party did not report the outbreak of the new coronavirus in a timely fashion to the World Health Organisation,” Pompeo told a news conference.
Even after Beijing notified the global health body, it “didn’t share all of the information it had,” he said.
“Instead it covered up how dangerous the disease is. It didn’t report sustained human-to-human transmission for a month until it was in every province inside of China.
“It censored those who tried to warn the world, it ordered a halt to testing of new samples and it destroyed existing samples,” Pompeo said.
He added that Beijing “still has not shared the virus sample from inside of China with the outside world, making it impossible to track the disease’s evolution.”
Pompeo also took aim at WHO, saying its “regulatory arm clearly failed during this pandemic.”
He accused WHO director general of failing “to go public” when a member state did not follow WHO rules on disclosing data.
President Donald Trump has ordered a halt in payments to the organisation, after partially blaming it for the scale of coronavirus-related deaths and for what he says is an over-reliance on information from China.
Trump has also recently accused Beijing of covering up information on the virus that broke out in the city of Wuhan in late 2019, although in the past he has praised China.
In one tweet in late January the president thanked China for its “transparency.”