China poses a threat to the world by hiding information about the origin of the coronavirus that it allowed to spread to other countries, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
President Donald Trump’s top diplomat, speaking in a television interview Wednesday, ratcheted up the accusations between the U.S. and China over the virus. White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law, also said Wednesday that the president has ordered an investigation into the origins of the virus and will hold those responsible accountable for its spread.
“The Chinese Communist Party now has a responsibility to tell the world how this pandemic got out of China and all across the world, causing such global economic devastation,” Pompeo told Fox News on Wednesday morning, during an interview where he repeatedly criticized China’s government. “America needs to hold them accountable.”
Trump again criticized the World Health Organization during a White House meeting with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. The president has sought to cut off U.S. funding for the UN agency, accusing it of taking Chinese claims about the virus at “face value.”
“They misled us,” he said. “They’re literally a pipe organ for China.”
He said that nothing positive is happening in China and that the country shouldn’t have allowed international air travel during its coronavirus outbreak.
The comments came after China Central Television’s top evening news program on Wednesday questioned the transparency and accuracy of U.S. data on Covid-19 infections. In recent days, the state television program said Pompeo is “turning himself into the common enemy of mankind” and that he “has exceeded the bottom line of being human.”
China knows that the virus outbreak originated in that country, Pompeo said, and is using “classic communist disinformation” to shift the focus from that, Pompeo said.
“I’ve been heartened to see Australia, other countries joining us, demanding an investigation, because while we know this started in Wuhan, China, we don’t yet know from where it started,” Pompeo said. “And in spite of our best efforts to get experts on the ground, they continue to try and hide and obfuscate.”
Kushner, speaking in a separate Fox News interview on Wednesday morning, said Trump had asked his administration to investigate the origin of the virus.
“He has asked the team to look into, very carefully, what happened, how this got here, and to make sure that he will take whatever actions that are necessary to make sure the people who caused the problems are held accountable for it,” Kushner said.
— With assistance from April Ma