UK says China questions coronavirus epidemic

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President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump in Beijing, China.

Artyom Ivanov | TASS | Getty Images

The UK has increased international pressure on China to answer questions about the information it has provided to the world on the coronavirus epidemic, but said the priority now is to defeat the pandemic.

Asked on Monday whether China should explain how quickly it has made the world aware of the extent of the virus, the British Defense Minister replied, “I think so. “

“But I think the moment of the post-mortem about it is after we have all mastered it and gone through it and our savings have returned to normal,” said the British Defense Minister. , Ben Wallace, at LBC Radio.

“It is only by being open and transparent that we will know more, and China must be open and transparent about what it has learned, and its shortcomings, but also its successes,” said Wallace.

His comments come after a barrage of US criticism of China over its handling of the coronavirus epidemic and accusations of lack of transparency in raising awareness.

President Donald Trump has increasingly blamed China, and repeated the accusation on Sunday, saying he believed “error” in China was the cause of the pandemic, although he did not present any evidence for this allegation.

Speaking at a Fox News virtual town hall, Trump said, “I think they made a horrible mistake and didn’t want to admit it. “

In addition, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that there was evidence that the disease had emerged from a Chinese laboratory.

It comes days after the United States’ largest spy agency said it determined the virus was not human, but was still investigating whether it was due to “an accident in a Wuhan laboratory. ” China has vehemently rejected allegations that the virus had escaped from a Wuhan research center.

Australian newspaper reported over the weekend that the U.S.-led Five Eyes intelligence alliance – which includes British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand intelligence – said in a dossier that China had deliberately deleted or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus epidemic in an “attack on international transparency” that claimed tens of thousands of lives. CNBC did not see the Five Eyes file and could not independently verify the report.

Asked about the veracity of the report, the British Minister of Defense replied that he would not comment. “Every day, I receive newsletters from our agencies around the world. I do not comment on individual newsletters, what I have and what I have not seen. It would be wrong, ”said Wallace.

China has repeatedly denied hiding details of the epidemic. He says the United States blamed him for diverting attention from his own response to the pandemic.

In an interview with NBC on Tuesday, Chinese Vice Premier Le Yucheng said, “China has been open, transparent and accountable in its response to Covid-19. We hid nothing and did not delay any effort. We have already released the schedule of how we shared information on Covid-19. “

The number of coronavirus infections continues to increase, with global cases now exceeding 3.5 million. The virus has caused more than 247,000 deaths worldwide. As cases and deaths continue to decrease in Europe and the United States, Latin America and Africa are seeing an increasing number of cases, Reuters said on Monday. The southern hemisphere is heading for winter.

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