Exclusive — Mike Pence on Coronavirus: ‘China Let the World Down’

VP Pence
AP Photo/Cliff Owen

NORCROSS, Georgia — Vice President Mike Pence told Breitbart News exclusively that China “let the world down” on the coronavirus pandemic, and that the Trump administration is developing plans to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its actions.

In an interview that aired on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel on this weekend, conducted here on Friday at Waffle House corporate headquarters outside Atlanta, Pence said that China and the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) hurt the world’s ability to prepare and respond to the pandemic by misleading and withholding “vital information.”

“China let the world down, and the World Health Organization was their willing partner in withholding from the United States and the wider world vital information about the coronavirus that would have made it possible for us to stand up a national response sooner,” Pence, the chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said. “It’s remarkable to think that China didn’t even let American CDC personnel in on the ground until mid-February to see what was going on.”

The W.H.O., in response to Pence’s comments in this Breitbart News exclusive interview, issued a lengthy statement to Newsweek.

“WHO works with 194 member states to promote health, China and the U.S. among them, to keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable,” W.H.O. said in response to Pence’s Breitbart News interview. “WHO’s work with China is identical to its work with any other member state. Moreover, its work with governments across the globe is science-based, with the aim of tackling disease outbreaks. WHO coordinates the international COVID-19 response in a transparent way and publishes on its website guidance, recommendations, reports and any other information that can help countries and individuals.”

The statement from W.H.O. continued:

WHO will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned, and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response. We call on all nations to invest in strengthening and implementing the many tools at our disposal – especially the International Health Regulations. To be successful, we must all commit to mutual ownership and accountability. WHO is committed to constantly refining its actions. WHO undertakes internal operational reviews during emergencies, to course correct during the response, and after-action reviews to capture and build on lessons learnt during emergency responses.

Newsweek also noted that the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, did not respond to Pence’s comments.

“The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not return Newsweek’s requests for comment before publication,” Newsweek wrote.

Pence in his exclusive interview added that President Donald Trump’s decision to ban travel from China to the United States in late January bought the U.S. time in standing up its response to the pandemic, but also that the United States is preparing actions to ensure China is “held accountable” for the coronavirus. Pence also said that the administration is going to push for major “reforms” at the W.H.O.

“The fact that the president suspended all travel from China at the end of January is a real testament to this president’s judgment. But make no mistake about it, China will be held accountable for what the world has gone through because of their lack of transparency. We’re going to continue to demand that the World Health Organization enact the kind of reforms going forward that if the world needs to know about any potential health threat, that we’ll know in the future,” Pence said.

Pence’s comments confirming that the United States will hold China accountable come just a week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Breitbart News that President Trump is “committed” to holding China accountable for the pandemic.

“I don’t want to get out in front of what President Trump will ultimately decide, but I think we all know in this administration that we have to make sure that something like this can never happen again,” Pompeo said last weekend on Breitbart News Saturday. “That means deterrence. That means setting up processes. The president has already stopped funding to the W.H.O. so that we can evaluate that and figure out which pieces of the W.H.O. might actually work and which pieces don’t, so that we can deliver good outcomes and keep Americans safe and make sure this doesn’t happen again. Then, there will come a time, there will come a day when we evaluate what it is that needs to be done to convince the Chinese Communist Party that there are real costs—real costs—connected to this kind of misbehavior. You know this—we say this all the time inside the United States, but around the world too, we have to hold nations accountable. I’m talking with many of my counterparts around the world. We have to hold nations accountable for the things and actions that they undertake which create risk, and in this case created enormous loss of life here in the United States. President Trump is committed to doing that. The precise mechanisms we will choose. I want to make sure he gets fully briefed to make those decisions.”

It also comes as President Trump wrote in a letter to W.H.O. Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus where he maintained the U.S. will continue to entirely cut off W.H.O. funding until such time as there are systemic reforms at the organization. Trump also told Tedros in the letter that the U.S. is considering altogether withdrawing from the W.H.O.

Meanwhile, Australia is leading a group of 122 countries in seeking an investigation into how the pandemic began. The Australian effort approved by the W.H.O. member countries last week does not mention China, but Chinese Communist Party officials have expressed opposition to it. Trump confirmed that the United States is part of that push. The Chinese Communist Party leadership in Beijing has not been happy.about western efforts to push for transparency and accountability on this matter, whether it be the United States efforts or Australia’s or others’—and has launched a series of attacks through state-controlled propaganda media to attack western leaders. Pompeo, in his exclusive interview last weekend with Breitbart News Saturday, denounced such attacks.

“I think this shows that the Chinese Communist Party understands the risk that they’ve put on top of their own nation,” Pompeo said, also noting that the state media attacks from China hit him as well as U.S. lawmakers and American media outlets. “Those attacks demonstrate weakness, not resolve, by the Chinese Communist Party. You and I are both old enough to remember how Communist regimes, how autocracies behave. Once they know they have done things that are wrong, they strike out. They try to blame others. I think that’s what you’re seeing. They also try to maneuver around the world through disinformation. We have been clear—President Trump, myself, the State Department—have been clear about making sure that everyone understands the facts surrounding the Chinese Communist Party.”



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