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Outgoing ambassador to China slams Beijing over coronavirus: 'Could have been contained in Wuhan'

Outgoing ambassador to China slams Beijing over coronavirus: 'Could have been contained in Wuhan'

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad slammed Beijing over its response to the coronavirus in an interview with CNN.

Branstad echoed criticisms made by President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTreasury sanctions Iran's ambassador to Iraq Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning House lawmakers call for continued assistance to Lebanon MORE, who are calling for accountability from Beijing for what they consider downplaying the virus early on. 

He said that "what could have been contained in Wuhan ended up becoming a worldwide pandemic."

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"[The] Chinese system was such that they covered it up and even penalized the doctors who pointed it out at the beginning,” Branstad said.

"It's really, I think, the communist system of China and their unwillingness to admit wrongdoing. That caused this whole thing to happen. And that's the tragedy of it," he added.

Branstad, a former Iowa governor who has served as ambassador to China since 2017, announced this week that he will be returning from the country in October. 

His departure comes amid rising tension between Beijing and Washington over the coronavirus pandemic and other issues, including trade and the Chinese-owned app TikTok.