China has finally admitted to destroying samples of coronavirus early in the outbreak, but they’re insisting they did it out of safety concerns rather than as part of any sort of coverup. Given their track record, however, doubts remain about the true motivation behind the move.
A supervisor for China’s National Health Commission, Liu Dengfeng, finally admitted in a news conference that the government there issued an order on January 3 directing some facilities to dispose of coronavirus samples. Liu said the order was a measure that aimed to “prevent the risk to laboratory biological safety and prevent secondary disasters caused by unidentified pathogens.”
Liu added that the labs had been “unauthorized” to handle the samples and therefore had to destroy them to comply with public health laws in the country. He stopped short of specifying how the samples were destroyed or why those labs had them in the first place.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been accusing China for months of destroying the samples to cover up the extent of the country’s outbreak. Last month, he expressed frustration with the Chinese government for not sharing virus samples from within the country with the rest of the world – something that makes it impossible to assess the evolution of the disease.
He has also accused the country of censoring coronavirus research and trying to influence international efforts to fight the disease. He criticized the country for taking too long to report the outbreak to the World Health Organization and said that even when they did notify them, they failed to share all of the information at their disposal.
Last week, he said: “The Chinese Communist Party tried to suppress information about this virus, about where it began, about how it started, about how it was being transmitted from human to human, indeed employed the World Health Organization to further that storyline.”
The U.S. has been impacted disproportionately by the disease, with almost one quarter of the world’s infections and deaths being seen in America. So far, more than 4.59 million people have tested positive for the disease globally and at least 309,000 have died according to official numbers – although the real death toll is widely believed to be far higher.
President Trump has said he’s “very disappointed in China” and that he has no desire to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A report from the department of Homeland Security shows that American officials believe that China intentionally covered up how severe the pandemic was in early January while hoarding medical supplies. Meanwhile, a leaked dossier by the Five Eyes intelligence alliance outlines how Beijing has caused some whistleblowers to mysteriously “disappear” and scrubbed mentions of the disease in its early stages from the internet while destroying virus samples. They called their actions an “assault on international transparency.”
Other intelligence agencies have reached similar findings. For example, Der Spiegel reported on a German intelligence document that suggests the Chinese president personally pressured the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, into holding back info about human-to-human transmission and delaying a pandemic warning.
In fact, Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service estimated that China’s actions “lost four to six weeks to fight the virus worldwide.”
Is it any surprise that the majority of Americans view China negatively and have no confidence in President Xi?
We already knew that China destroyed those samples, so admitting to doing so and making up an excuse for it isn’t going to do much to make them look any better. In fact, it will only add fuel to the rumors of coverups that are going on in the country, including those surrounding how this disease came into existence in the first place. If they were really so worried about “safety,” they would have acted far differently from the start of this pandemic, and thousands of people around the world who have died in the last few months might still be alive and with their loved ones today.
Sources for this article include: