March 20, 2020
Bloomberg News – The Trump administration escalated its attacks on China over the coronavirus, as U.S. officials publicly alleged that Beijing concealed and minimized the spread of the disease within its borders until it was too late to stop a global outbreak.
President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called the disease the “Chinese virus” at a White House news conference on Friday, rejecting criticism from Beijing and within their own country that the term is offensive. Pompeo demanded the Chinese government release more data on the virus’s spread, saying lives could be at risk otherwise.
“This transparency, this real-time information sharing isn’t about political gains or retribution. It’s about keeping people safe,” Pompeo said at the White House.
Earlier in the day, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that China defense officials did not respond to offers of U.S. assistance as early as January.
Esper said on Fox News:
”If the Chinese government had been more transparent early on, we’re talking late fall, December at least, we would all — all of us, all the nations of the world — would have been able to get our arms around this and contain it in China where it began and prevent its propagation around the world.”
A set of National Security Council talking points obtained by Bloomberg News accuse China of a “cover-up” by hiding news of the outbreak from its own people and the world for weeks and calls the U.S. the “greatest humanitarians the world has ever known.”
The new, harsher U.S. assessment of the Chinese response to the virus represents a pivot, as just last month Trump praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s efforts.
Trump has sought to shift blame for a growing American outbreak of the coronavirus — now at more than 16,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University — as the disease quickly reshapes the U.S. presidential campaign just months before the election.
Chinese officials expressed their surprise at the comments from Trump officials … Read more.