(CNSNews.com) – Chinese and Iranians have been the people most harmed by their own governments’ poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and they will “ultimately hold their leaders responsible,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.
Speaking on the national radio show “Washington Watch” hosted by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Pompeo said he believes that is the reason why their officials have been airing unfounded theories in a bid to blame the United States.
“They want to try and deflect responsibility from the poor decisions that those leaders undertook.”
Referring to allegations of a lack of transparency by the Chinese government – especially in the early stages of the outbreak that emerged in Wuhan late last year – and by the Iranian regime to this day, Pompeo said in both countries, “the people most harmed by the absence of transparency and good governance are the people of their own country.”
“The people most harmed by Chinese disinformation, the fact that they covered this up early, were the people of Wuhan and Hubei [province], China,” he told Perkins.
“Similarly, today in Iran, the people who are most harmed by Iran’s failure to acknowledge the problem and to accept the fact that they allowed Chinese flights to continue to come into the country from Tehran – when they knew they shouldn’t have, but they didn’t want to upset their Chinese friends – the people most harmed by that are their own people.”
(Iranian officials announced on January 31 that air travel to China was being suspended to prevent the risk of importing COVID-19 infections from the outbreak epicenter, but the State Department charged this week that Iran’s U.S.-sanctioned Mahan airlines went on to operate at least 55 flights between Iran and China during February.)
Pompeo said he believes the people in China and Iran know about their governments’ missteps.
“I think the people in those countries will ultimately hold their leaders responsible for this. And I think this, too, is why this disinformation campaign is taking place,” he said. “They [the Chinese and Iranian governments] want to try and deflect responsibility from the poor decisions that those leaders undertook.”
Expanding on Beijing’s early response to the emerging epidemic, Pompeo contended that “every day, every week matters in terms of how this information is transmitted around the world. That is, when you share this information, the best scientists around the world can begin to work on it. You can start all the processes, not only vaccines and things that mitigate, but you can begin to put in place the things that will cause the spread to be decreased.”
“And it’s multiplicative, and so every day that the Chinese Communist Party sat on this information and didn’t do the right thing, and instead punished doctors who were attempting to alert the world about what was taking place there in Wuhan, increased the number of people who would be exposed, and thereby put all of us all around the world – and the Chinese people as well – put them at unnecessary risk, too.”
Chinese officials insist that the country moved quickly and transparently to alert the international community to the outbreak, characterizing their actions at a heroic effort that gave other countries the opportunity to better prepare for the pandemic.
The first known case of the novel coronavirus dates back to December 1 last year, according to a paper by two dozen Chinese experts – or possibly even to November 17, according to Chinese government data cited by the South China Morning Post this month.
Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization (WHO) office in China on December 31, and shared the genetic sequence of the coronavirus on January 12.
On February 2, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien disclosed that the U.S. was still awaiting a response from China to its offers send to over medical health professionals, and on February 7 the New York Times reported that China had been ignoring both U.S. CDC and WHO offers of help for weeks.
A WHO team, including U.S. experts, was able to reach China on February 17, and on February 22 was finally allowed to visit Wuhan.
‘It was the U.S. side that started this argument’
In recent weeks Chinese state media began pushing back at assertions that the outbreak began in China, and began introducing the notion that the U.S. may be covering up its own role. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, then promoted on Twitter conspiracy theories blaming the U.S. Army for the virus, prompting strong protests from Washington.
At a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, another foreign ministry spokesman said it was the U.S. who started the controversy over the origin of the virus.
In doing so, Geng Shuang effectively equated President Trump and Pompeo’s pointing to the city where the outbreak emerged with Chinese officials accusing the U.S. Army of responsibility.
“Recently, there have been some arguments between China and the U.S. about the origin of the virus,” he said. “I want to point out that it was the U.S. side that started this argument. It was also the U.S. that first claimed that the virus originated in China and used such terms as ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Wuhan virus.’”
Geng said Pompeo had first starting referring publicly to “Wuhan virus” on March 6, since when “some U.S. politicians and senior officials have been using this term to stigmatize China, causing great anger and strong opposition from the Chinese people.”
Geng said nothing about his colleague’s insinuations that the U.S. Army was to blame for the outbreak, which as of early Wednesday had spread to 194 countries and territories and been blamed for more than 18,600 deaths.