The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) covered up details about the new coronavirus, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, warning that a similar situation could unfold “if we don’t get to the bottom of this.”
The virus began in Wuhan, China, in 2019, but details about its spread were suppressed by the CCP for weeks. The party later manipulated figures showing the number of infections and deaths, according to internal documents obtained by The Epoch Times.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity” on March 18, Pompeo noted that the United States registered strong objections to the Chinese ambassador to the United States after Chinese officials claimed the U.S. military brought the CCP virus to China.
The disinformation campaign began when the United States began drawing attention to the risk of the virus, Pompeo said. The Chinese government knew about the risk, but it did little to protect people from it.
“They wasted valuable days at the front end, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to leave Wuhan to go to places like Italy, that’s now suffering so badly,” Pompeo said.
Chinese officials worked to suppress information about the outbreak instead of trying to suppress the virus itself, Pompeo said. “And the Chinese Communist Party didn’t get it right, and put countless lives at risk as a result of that,” he said.
The United States repeatedly offered in January to send teams of American health experts to China to help study and respond to the virus, but the CCP didn’t accept the offers. Two U.S. experts were finally allowed in, but only as part of a World Health Organization team. The organization has been widely criticized for consistently praising China and dismissing information about how the CCP hid details about the virus.
Party officials “haven’t been sufficiently transparent, and the risk, Sean, that you find; if we don’t get this right, if we don’t get to the bottom of this, is this could be something that’s repeatable,” Pompeo told host Sean Hannity.
“Maybe not in this form, maybe not in this way, but transparency matters.
“As America’s most senior diplomat, we have an obligation to try and help make sure that we get this information from the Chinese Communist Party, so we can help our medical professionals here in the United States get this right and save lives for Americans, and for people all across the world.”
Other top U.S. officials have sounded similar themes. National security adviser Robert O’Brien said on March 11 that Chinese officials covering up the initial outbreak of the virus cost the world some two months in response time.
“Rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up. There’s lots of open-source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals, that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation or that sort of thing, so that word of this virus could not get out,” he said. “It probably cost the world community two months to respond.”
During that time period, scientists could have sequenced the virus, and teams from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO) could have been on the ground.
“I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what’s now happening across the world,” O’Brien said.
President Donald Trump told reporters on March 17 that Chinese officials were disseminating false information, referring to the conspiracy theory that the U.S. military took the virus to China.
The president responded to a reporter who asked about people criticizing Trump for calling the virus the Chinese virus.
“That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I have to call it where it came from; it did come from China. So I think it’s a very accurate term,” Trump said.
“China tried to say at one point—maybe they stopped now—that it was caused by American soldiers. That can’t happen. It’s not going to happen—not as long as I’m president,” he told a reporter on March 18 who said that some people believe the term Chinese virus is racist, repeating CCP propaganda. “It comes from China.”