The worsening tit-for-tat exchange of blame for the spread of coronavirus between Washington and Beijing continues, as on Wednesday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China's “intentional disinformation campaign” behind the “Wuhan virus” — something Pompeo says was discussed among the Group of Seven (G7) big economies in a virtual meeting.
Pompeo not only emphasized China's 'propaganda' but that it fueled the pandemic by intentionally and recklessly delaying crucial information sharing with governments in the West. He demanded transparency in his discussion with G7 leaders, Reuters reports.
“That means full transparency by everyone, including by the Chinese Communist Party. This is a continuing challenge, we still need good information from the Chinese Communist Party about what is taking place there,” he said, while also rejecting what he described as “crazy talking” from some senior Chinese officials.
Some among Chinese Foreign Ministry officials, including its top spokesman, have in the past weeks floated a theory that Covid-19 was created and spread from a US Army lab as bio-warfare against China and Washington's enemies.
“Every one of the nations that was at that meeting this morning was deeply aware of the disinformation campaign that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in to try and deflect from what has really taken place here,” Pompeo added.
He claimed that G7 nations — from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan —agree with his assessment that Chinese efforts are aimed at spreading "continuous" disinformation on social media.
"Every one of the nations that were at that meeting this morning was deeply aware of the disinformation campaign that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in to try and deflect from what has really taken place," Pompeo told reporters.
This comes as health officials grow alarmed that the claims of containment and that the outbreak has lost steam in China are misleading given the potential high number of asymptomatic cases going unrecorded.
It’s becoming clearer that spread of #COVID19 by people who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic may be responsible for more transmission than previously thought; making control of the virus more difficult. https://t.co/kfBneTrqQf— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) March 15, 2020
"China’s exclusion of people without symptoms from its official count of confirmed coronavirus cases is renewing concerns over whether its outbreak has truly come under control," Bloomberg reports. "Local authorities in Wuhan — the city where the virus first emerged — defended their practice of not counting such cases late Monday night, after local magazine Caixin reported that the city was still finding asymptomatic cases daily."
The danger is that China is considering lifting a number of quarantines in the country, especially travel in Hubei province which has already been opened up, which could be premature and poise the region for a new explosive rise in cases.