WASHINGTON - China accused U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday of “wantonly spewing poison and spreading lies” about the origin of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
A day ago, the top U.S. diplomat there was “enormous evidence” that the pandemic originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, not a nearby market.
But China's state broadcaster CCTV attacked what it described as Pompeo's "insane and evasive remarks.” It claimed the pandemic was natural in origin.
Pompeo told ABC News’s “This Week” show, “Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories. These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as the result of failures in a Chinese lab.”
The Chinese commentary contended, "These flawed and unreasonable remarks by American politicians make it clear to more and more people that no 'evidence' exists.
"The so-called 'virus leaked from a Wuhan lab' hype is a complete and utter lie,” China said. “American politicians are rushing to shift the blame, cheat votes and suppress China when their own domestic anti-epidemic efforts are a mess.”
In the last week, CCTV has often called Pompeo the "common enemy of mankind" and accused him of "spreading a political virus" over claims that the pandemic originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. China in March had advanced the conspiracy theory that the U.S. military may have brought the virus to China.
U.S. intelligence officials said last week that the U.S. is investigating whether the initial COVID-19 outbreak was the result of exposure to wild animals or an accident at the Wuhan laboratory.
Pompeo said there is a “high degree of confidence” that the virus came from the Wuhan lab, which was studying the presence of the virus in bats.
“There’s enormous evidence that that’s where this began,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said he has no reason to doubt the U.S. intelligence community's consensus that the virus was "not manmade or genetically modified."
But he blamed China for delays in informing the world of the emerging threat of Covid-19.
He said the worldwide number of cases – now more than 3.5 million, with a death toll of more than 248,000 -- would not have been so extensive had China not “attempted to conceal and hide and confuse.
“We can confirm that the Chinese communist party did all that it could to make sure the world didn’t learn in a timely fashion about was taking place,” he said. “There’s lots of evidence of that.”
Pompeo said Sunday that U.S. and international scientists have not been allowed to visit the Wuhan laboratory and that China has not provided a sample of the original virus.
“We have said from the beginning, that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China,” Pompeo said. “We took a lot of grief for that from the outset.”
Now, he said, China has embarked on a campaign to keep the world from further investigating its role in the pandemic’s origin.
“We’ve seen the fact they’ve kicked journalists out,” Pompeo said. “We saw the fact that those who were trying to report on this, medical professionals inside of China, were silenced.
“This is a classic communist disinformation effort that created enormous risk,” he said. “And now you can see hundreds of thousands of people around the world and tens of thousands in the U.S.” who have contracted the virus.
He said U.S. President Donald Trump is “very clear: we’re going to hold those responsible, accountable. We’ll do so on a timeline that is ours.”