U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on May 7 the pandemic has prompted the world to become alert to the threats posed by the Chinese communist regime.
“I think the whole world is now waking up,” Pompeo said in a radio interview on “The Steve Gruber Show.”
“I think they’ve [other countries] seen what President Trump has done and they’re waking up to the challenge as well,” referring to the administration’s hardline stance on China.
“I think the whole world can now see that this regime, this authoritarian regime, is just different than we are.”
The secretary’s remarks come amid rising scrutiny of Beijing’s coverup of the outbreak. A growing number of Western countries, including those in the European Union, are demanding an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.
Freedom Versus Tyranny
In a May 6 interview with The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus elaborated on the idea.
She said the pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the ways that free and unfree states handle a crisis—contrasting openness and opacity.
“If anybody was sort of curious about how do authoritarian societies handle a pandemic versus democracies—for me, it’s crystal clear now more than ever … that type of transparency, you only get from free and open societies,” Ortagus said.
Pointing to authoritarian regimes like China, North Korea, and Iran, she said, “Not only do we believe that they are underreporting the number of cases, they’re also likely grossly underreporting the number of deaths as well.”
Previous reporting by The Epoch Times, based on leaked documents and first-hand accounts from Chinese residents, shows that authorities have underreported the number of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus infections and death figures. They continue to cover up the severity of new outbreaks in northern China.
On North Korea’s claim that it has no virus cases, Ortagus said, “Sure, miracles happen every day—I don’t think that’s one of them.”
‘Conflating the Issues’
Pompeo has repeatedly called on the Chinese regime to provide information about the origins of the outbreak.
“We still don’t have the samples that we need. We still don’t have the access,” Pompeo said at a May 6 press conference. “They continue to be opaque, and they continue to deny access for this important information that our researchers, our epidemiologists, need.”
The administration hasn’t yet reached a conclusion about the origins of the pandemic. “The intelligence community is still figuring out precisely where the virus began,” Pompeo said.
Ortagus disagreed with media claims that recent statements by senior U.S. officials about the virus origins were inconsistent. She suggested that people were “conflating the issues” concerning whether the virus was naturally occurring and whether it was leaked from a lab.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said on May 5 that the “weight of evidence” is that the virus is “natural and not man-made”—the same conclusion reached last week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On the second issue of whether it was accidentally or intentionally released from a lab, Milley said, “We do not have conclusive evidence in any of that but the weight of evidence is that it was probably not intentional.”
Ortagus said: “Obviously, it’s possible for a natural virus to emanate from a lab. It doesn’t just have to be a man-made virus. … It’s also possible as many in the intelligence community have pointed out, that things can accidentally leak from a lab without it being a purposeful or an intentional leak.”
Pompeo, in the radio interview, said the CCP has a choice to make on whether it wants to participate in the international community “as a member of civilized society.”
“We all know the history of the Soviet Union,” he said. “Do they want to behave in a way that’s more consistent with what authoritarian regimes have done on this planet for an awfully long time?
“If they do, I know that President Trump will do the right thing to make sure we protect the American people.”