Trump ‘probing China and WHO coronavirus cover-up’ as Chinese officials say US ‘wasted weeks’ before response – The Sun
A TOP Chinese official says President Donald Trump wasted time in the weeks after it was clear the coronavirus was a threat — as it's reported Trump has asked intelligence agencies to investigate what China knew and when.
Le Yucheng, the country’s executive vice foreign minister, told NBC News on Tuesday that Trump didn’t act quickly enough after Wuhan, the epicenter of the global outbreak, locked down.
"On January 23 when Wuhan went under lockdown, the United States reported only one confirmed case, but on March 13 when President Trump announced a national emergency, the United States reported over 1,600 confirmed cases," Le said.
"In this interval of 50 days, what was the US government doing? Where have those 50 days gone?"
The number of coronavirus cases in the US skyrocketed to more than one million on Monday — which Trump tweeted was because “our Testing is sooo much better than any other country in the World.”
“Other countries are way behind us in Testing, and therefore show far fewer cases!”
Trump has blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak and even cut US funding to the World Health Organization because he believes they’re too “China-centric” and helped cover up the outbreak.
On Wednesday, NBC News reported the White House ordered intelligence agencies to try to find out if China and the WHO initially hid information about the outbreak.
The National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which includes the National Center for Medical Intelligence, were sent a specific "tasking" last week to learn more information about the early days of the virus in China, officials told the news outlet.
The CIA was said to have been given similar instructions.
US intelligence officials previously found that China purposefully made up their number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
Trump said of their purported 82,000 cases: "Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China. … Does anybody really believe that?"
"Some countries are in big, big trouble and they're not reporting the facts — and that's up to them," he said earlier this month.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Monday: “The [Communist Party of China] needs to be transparent as the world seeks answers to #COVID19 and its origins.”
“We don’t know the history. We haven’t been able to get our team on the ground to do the work that it needs to do. #China has a responsibility to cooperate.”
Fox News reported this month that US officials are investigating the Wuhan Institute of Virology and trying to form a timeline of what the Chinese government knew and when.
The news outlet had previously reported, citing multiple sources, that the virus started in a lab as part of China’s effort to show the country has the same capabilities of identifying and combatting viruses as the US.
Chinese official Le told NBC News on Tuesday: "I want to say China has not covered anything up. We did not cause any delay.”
He added China acted “fast” compared to other countries.
His remarks came as Chinese state-run news outlet the Global Times questioned in an op-ed: "Numerous people are wondering how the US system can tolerate such a person as a president."
The op-ed says Trump destroyed the Washington Consensus, a set of broadly free-market economic ideas.
"The Washington Consensus is dead, the beacon of democracy, freedom and human rights that the US has long adhered to has collapsed."
Le pushed for cooperation between China and the US, saying "the true enemy of the United States is the COVID-19 virus," and added: "I think it’s really important for the US government to find the right focus, the real enemy.”
As for politicians in the US who are using the virus and blaming the outbreak on the Chinese in campaign ads, Le told the news outlet he thinks it’s "short-sighted" and "irresponsible" to use the coronavirus crisis for political gain.
"Unfortunately, some political figures are politicizing this Covid-19. They’re using this virus to stigmatize China. This is not something we are willing to see," he said.
Trump on Monday said that his administration is conducting "serious investigations" into the actions they can take against Beijing, including demanding a “very substantial figure.”
"There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable,” Trump said. "We're doing very serious investigations, as you probably know. And we are not happy with China. We are not happy with that whole situation.
"Because we believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn't have spread all over the world."
As for making China pay reparations to other countries, Le said the idea is "preposterous" and such claims are "out-and-out political farce."
"There is no international law that supports blaming a country for simply being the first to report a disease," Le said.
Le added China is in favor of scientific investigations that would push out “conspiracy theories.”
"We do not oppose normal communication and mutual learning between scientists," he said. "What we do oppose is arbitrary investigations based on the presumption of China’s guilt. That is something we firmly oppose."
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