Chinese Envoy Refuses to Apologize for Beijing’s Initial ‘Cover Up’ of Coronavirus Outbreak

Cui Tiankai, Chinas Ambassador to the US participates in the Plenary Session of the US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange during the seventh US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the US State Department in Washington DC, June 24, 2015. The United States and China vowed to avoid confrontation as they headed …
CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP via Getty Images

China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, in a preview of an interview released on Friday, repudiated assertions that communist officials covered up the novel coronavirus outbreak in China at its early stages.

In the preview of the interview by Axios that is scheduled to air on Sunday, the ambassador denied that Beijing withheld information that U.S. officials believe could have helped the rest of the world combat the disease and save lives.

Cui’s comments came in response to Jonathan Swan from Axios pressing him about Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials “covering up” the outbreak in China, the birthplace of the disease, at its early stages. Health officials detected the first coronavirus case on November 17 in Wuhan, China.

“By covering up the reality of this virus for three weeks, communist party officials allowed the virus to spread not just to Han people in China, but to people all around the world,” Swan noted.

The Axios reporter then proceeded to ask the ambassador point-blank whether the communist party wanted to apologize for its initial “cover up” of the novel coronavirus infections (COVID-19) in China.

“I think that that statement is based on distortions of fact,” Cui replied.

During a March 11 event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien blasted Beijing for covering up the coronavirus outbreak in China at its early stages.

Rather than using best practices during China’s early handling of the highly contagious and deadly disease, “this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” O’Brien declared.

“There’s lots of open source reporting from Chinese nationals that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation … so the word of this virus could not get out,” he added.

If China had been cooperative at the beginning of the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what’s now happening across the world,” O’Brien said.

“It probably cost the world community two months to respond, and those two months … could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what is now happening across the world,” he also said.

A study published last week by the University of Southampton’s WorldPop population mapping group determined that China could have prevented 95 percent of the coronavirus infections plaguing the globe if Beijing had listened to the doctors in Wuhan who blew the whistle on the seriousness of the disease instead of silencing and punishing them for speaking out.

In an interview with CNBC earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also acknowledged that China had put the U.S. “behind the curve” in responding to the outbreak.

“Remember, this is the Wuhan coronavirus that’s caused this, 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,” Pompeo told CNBC on March 6.

A surge of pneumonia deaths in China that are not being counted as coronavirus has also sparked concerns that the Chinese Communist Party is continuing to cover up the extent of the Wuhan virus cases and artificially deflating numbers.

On March 13, the U.S. government summoned Amb. Cui to the State Department to protest Beijing’s suggestion that the American military brought the coronavirus to China.

The Trump administration has pushed back against China’s propaganda effort to reframe the coronavirus outbreak as a triumph for communism now that new cases in the country have allegedly begun to drop.

WHO deemed the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. As of March 19, COVID-19 had infected 209,839 people and killed 8,778 across 168 countries/territories/areas, WHO reported.

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