On Monday, Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo warned his Chinese counterpart that the country’s communist government needs to stop lying and pushing “outlandish rumors” about the United States and the China-originated novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
During a phone call with Yang Jiechi, the Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China, Secretary Pompeo “conveyed strong U.S. objection to PR’s (People’s Republic of China) efforts to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States,” a statement from spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.
“The Secretary stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat,” the spokesperson added in the call readout.
Pompeo tells China directly to stop lying. pic.twitter.com/rPnwnI3HL6
— Rowan Scarborough (@RoScarborough) March 16, 2020
As reported by USA Today, Chinese officials circulated a false claim that the novel coronavirus originated in the United States and was passed along to China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, for example, echoed the evidence-free suggestion via Twitter that the U.S. Army brought the virus to Wuhan, China. As noted by The Hill, the tweet was shared and retweeted by other Chinese diplomats.
“CDC was caught on the spot,” posted Lijian. “When did patient zero begin in U.S.? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owe us an explanation!”
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
According to USA Today, the false talking point was first published by the Centre for Research on Globalization in a piece titled, “A Shocking Update. Did The Virus Originate in the U.S.?”
All research points to the novel coronavirus originating in China, however.
“The consensus among researchers studying the spread of the virus pinpoints COVID-19’s likely origin to a “wet market,” or live animal market, in Wuhan, China,” USA Today reported. “Though experts have not ruled out the possibility that the pathogen could have been brought to the market by an already infected person, there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 originated outside the country.”
As noted by The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra, “China knew about the virus in November; reportedly hid the extent of the outbreak from the rest of the world; allegedly silenced critics, doctors, and journalists who sounded the alarm; failed to contain the virus within its own borders; and has falsely suggested that the U.S. military may be behind the virus.”
On the heels of Pompeo’s tough call, President Donald Trump emphasized the virus originating in China, notably referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus.”
“The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus,” Trump said via Twitter on Monday. “We will be stronger than ever before!”
In the United States, there are currently 4,567 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with a total of 85 deaths.
According to a Forbes report published Monday, the only state in the union without a confirmed case of coronavirus is West Virginia. Washington tops the list with the most confirmed cases at 769, New York comes in second with 746 cases, and California rounds out the top three with 458 cases.