China Cover-up Delayed Global Response to Coronavirus Says US National Security Adviser
By Steve McLoud March 17, 2020
By “covering up” the initial outbreak of the coronavirus, China delayed an effective global response by two months, said U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien during remarks at an event at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington D.C., on March 11.
He cited evidence that included open-sourced reporting from Chinese nationals saying that doctors were being silenced or put in isolation so that word of the virus could not get out.
O’Brien said that if China had been cooperative at the beginning of the outbreak, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States could have had teams on the ground in China earlier to analyze the virus’s sequence.
“I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened, both in China and what’s now happening across the world,” O’Brien added.
O’Brien’s rebuke of the Chinese government echoes remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Remember, this is the ‘Wuhan’ coronavirus that’s caused this,” said Pompeo, referring to the capital of the Hubei province in central China where the strain first originated in November 2019. “And the information that we got at the front end of this thing wasn’t perfect and has led us now to a place where much of the challenge we face today has put us behind the curve,” he added.
Both Pompeo and O’Brien’s remarks are in line with a campaign being mounted by Florida Senator Marco Rubio. In an article written for the New York Post on March 3, Rubio wrote that China’s Communist Party is spreading misinformation to blame the U.S. for the virus so that it can dampen discontent in China, distract from true infection rates, the repression they’re meting out to their people and to “save face internationally.”
Other examples Rubio provided include the Chinese military portal Xilu.com, which recently published an article claiming, without any corroboration, that the virus is “a biochemical weapon produced by the U.S. to target China.” On social media, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian is also promoting the same conspiracy theory, posting to his more 300,000 followers on Twitter.
Rubio also wrote that besides China, misinformation is coming from Russia and Iran, the hardest-hit country in the Middle East.
“In Qom, ground zero of Iran’s coronavirus outbreak, a prominent cleric accused the United States of introducing the virus ‘to damage [the city’s] culture and honor,’” Rubio wrote.
“The Iranian people, as a result, have taken few precautionary measures, and the country now suffers one of the world’s worst outbreaks — with its vice president and senior government officials confirmed as infected,” he added.
In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 3,000 people have died from the virus, while 80,000 others have been infected and more than 58,000 have recovered so far.