US President Donald Trump called the coronavirus pandemic the worst “attack” the country has ever known on Wednesday, and blamed China for not ending it, amid an increasingly intense war of words between the United States and China about the virus.
“It’s worse than Pearl Harbor. It’s worse than the World Trade Center, “said Trump at a White House event, referring to the Japanese bombing of the American air base that led Americans to WWII and the September 11 attacks. .
“It should never have happened,” said Trump. “He could have been arrested at the source. He could have been arrested in China. He should have been arrested directly at the source, and he was not. “
The Trump administration has become increasingly critical of China as the death toll in the United States has increased, blaming it for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and demanding that the country be more transparent about his management of the disease, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year.
More than 255,000 people worldwide have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, including at least 70,000 in the United States.
Most experts believe the virus originated in a Wuhan food market that also sold illegal wildlife and passed from animals to humans, but Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there is significant evidence that it came from a laboratory.
|Trump administration’s coronavirus response criticized|
Pompeo also reiterated its criticism of China on Wednesday.
“They knew it. China could have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. China could have spared the global descent into global economic unrest, “ Pompeo said a State Department press conference.
“China still refuses to share the information we need to keep people safe. “
Earlier, the Beijing government rejected American claims, highlighting Pompeo’s remarks from the previous weekend about the origins of the virus.
“I think this matter should be left to scientists and health professionals, not politicians who lie for their own national political ends,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Wednesday. .
“Mr. Pompeo has spoken on several occasions but he cannot present any evidence. How can it? Because he doesn’t have one, “added Hua.
On Sunday, Pompeo said there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, having said last Thursday that it did not know whether it came from the laboratory, from a so- saying wet market or some other place.
Wednesday, Pompeo said the United States was not sure, but there was significant evidence that it came from the laboratory.
“Each of these statements is perfectly consistent,” he said. “We are all trying to find the right answer. We are all trying to get clarity. “
The state-supported Wuhan Chinese Institute of Virology said the virus did not originate there.
European Union Ambassador to China Nicolas Chapuis told reporters on Thursday that the growing tension between the United States and China was a problem for all parties and was not helpful at a time when cooperation was crucial in the fight against the virus.
National critics of President Donald Trump, including some former government officials and academics, have said that while China has a lot to answer for in terms of its actions at the start of the epidemic, the administration seeks to divert attention from what she sees as a slow American response.
|Trump claims coronavirus came from Wuhan lab|
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and a member of the Trump Coronavirus Task Force, said in an interview published Monday that the best evidence was that the virus had not been made in the laboratory, but seemed to have “evolved in the wild, then jumped species”.
Last week, Trump was asked if he had seen evidence that gave him a “high degree of confidence” that the virus came from the Wuhan Virology Institute, and responded in the affirmative, although ‘he refused to give details.
Pompeo said China is still withholding virus samples it says are needed for global vaccine research.
“They continue to be opaque, they continue to deny access to this important information that our researchers or epidemiologists need,” he said.
“People say that America intimidates the Chinese. We only ask them what we ask of each nation: to be transparent, open, to be a reliable partner, whatever they say. The Chinese say they want to cooperate. ” Awesome. Cooperation is action. “
He also targeted the World Health Organization (WHO).
“It’s not just that they didn’t enforce… WHO should always demand an investigation”, Pompeo said, adding that WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should be “just as concerned as the United States … and other countries to which we still do not have the answers we need.”
In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said that “blaming China will not end this pandemic.”
“It’s time to end the blame game. It is time to focus on the disease and restore confidence between our two countries, “he said.