China rips US over suggestion it withheld virus data
The Chinese government ripped into U.S. officials on Sunday after the White House suggested Beijing was dishonest in reporting coronavirus data to international public health officials.
“What the U.S. has done in recent years has severely undermined multilateral institutions, including the [World Health Organization (WHO)], and gravely damaged international cooperation on COVID-19. But the U.S., acting as if none of this had ever happened, is pointing fingers at other countries who have been faithfully supporting the WHO and at the WHO itself. With such a track record, how can it win the confidence of the whole world?” a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. said in a statement.
“It is hoped that the U.S. will hold itself to the highest standards, take a serious, earnest, transparent and responsible attitude, shoulder its rightful responsibility, support the WHO’s work with real actions and make due contribution to the international cooperation on COVID-19,” it added. “The whole world will be looking.”
The comments came a day after White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan indicated he has “deep concerns” regarding reports China may be underreporting or misrepresenting coronavirus statistics.
“We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them,” Sullivan said on Saturday. “It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government. To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak.”
Officials with the World Health Organization have spent the last several weeks in Wuhan, China investigating the origins of the coronavirus, which was first reported in the city before spreading to nearly every country in the world.
Former President Trump blamed China for the pandemic, saying it lied to U.S. officials about the potential dangers the disease posed to the world and pulling funding from the WHO for what he characterized as an overly sympathetic stance on China.
President Biden has overseen the restoration of U.S. ties to the WHO, saying it is an essential relationship America must maintain during a public health crisis.
“The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said when the U.S. rejoined the organization.
Chinese officials on Sunday echoed that sentiment.
“China welcomes the return of the U.S. to the World Health Organization,” the spokesperson said. “The WHO is an authoritative multilateral international organization in the field of health, not a funfair where one can come and go at will.”