The Chinese government has been accused of hiding the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in its early days to hoard medical supplies to be used as a response by U.S. intelligence officials.
A report from the Department of Homeland Security dated May 1 claims China’s government, run by the Communist Party of China (CPC), had increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies including face masks, surgical gowns and gloves while downplaying the severity of COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
The report states that the CPC denied “there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data.”
The CPC also allegedly held off on informing the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus “was a contagion.” This is based on a 95% probability that China’s changes in import and export behavior “were not within normal range,” according to the report.
AP reported the missteps in the CPC’s response to the pandemic which appear to have been due to “bureaucratic hurdles, tight controls on information and officials hesitant to report bad news.” However, there appears to be no public evidence supporting the DHS’s claim on the CPC’s plot to buy the world’s medical supplies.
On Sunday, President Trump pointed to U.S. intelligence officials for not making clear sooner the danger posed by a potential coronavirus outbreak in his tweet.
“Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S.,” Trump, without citing any specifics, said. “Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner.”
Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S. Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2020
Trump’s intelligence agencies are reportedly examining the notion put forward by the president and his aides suggesting that the virus may have been a result of an accident at a lab in China. This is one of the popular conspiracy theories surrounding the virus that international scientists have debunked.
Even though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday he had no reason to believe the COVID-19 was deliberately spread, he added, “Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.”
“These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab,” Pompeo continued. “And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that, and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”
The Global Times, a tabloid newspaper linked to the CPC’s state-run media People’s Daily, called Pompeo’s statement “groundless accusations” on Monday. It went on to claim the accusations were politically-motivated to divert the attention from the U.S. administration’s failure in dealing with the pandemic to keep Trump’s presidency.
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