China: Pompeo ‘evil’ for suggesting virus leaked from Wuhan lab, and slams Trump for ‘impeding virus fight’ after claiming Beijing made a ‘horrible mistake’ – as war of words between rivals heats up

China Media blamed President Trump for ‘trying to impede global efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic’ in a separate editorial attack. 

Chinese state media branded US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ‘evil’ over his repeated claims that the coronavirus accidentally leaked from a government lab amid an escalating war of words between Washington and Beijing.

News reports from several outlets operated by the Chinese Communist Party ran vicious attacks on Pompeo on Monday, with the Xinhua agency calling him ‘one of the worst secretaries of the state in American history’. 

The attacks came after Pompeo doubled down on his allegations that the COVID-19 virus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology during an ABC News interview on Sunday, saying: ‘I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.’ 

Chinese state media branded US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 'evil' on Monday over his repeated claims that the coronavirus accidentally leaked from a government lab amid an escalating war of words between Washington and Beijing

Chinese state media branded US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ‘evil’ on Monday over his repeated claims that the coronavirus accidentally leaked from a government lab amid an escalating war of words between Washington and Beijing

China’s Global Times penned an editorial which said Pompeo had ‘stunned the world with groundless accusations’, charging: ‘The truth is that Pompeo does not have any evidence, and during Sunday’s interview, he was bluffing.’

‘Since Pompeo said his claims are supported by “enormous evidence”, then he should present this so-called evidence to the world, and especially to the American public who he continually tries to fool,’ the editorial said. 

‘Pompeo is indulging in a solo performance that has failed to adhere to the professional standards expected of a chief diplomat. His claims are not supported by scientists or reliable intelligence.’

Another editorial also accused the US of engaging in ‘unprecedented propaganda warfare’ and blamed Trump for ‘trying to impede global efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic’.

The fresh attack came as Trump yesterday said that China had made a ‘horrible mistake’ and tried to cover-up the coronavirus outbreak. 

President Trump (right) with his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) have now both come under fire from Chinese state media for their claims that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab, with Chinese media blaming Trump for 'impeding global efforts in fighting Covid-19'

 

President Trump (right) with his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) have now both come under fire from Chinese state media for their claims that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab, with Chinese media blaming Trump for ‘impeding global efforts in fighting Covid-19’

Pompeo doubled down on his allegations that the COVID-19 virus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured) during an ABC News interview on Sunday, saying: 'I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan'

Pompeo doubled down on his allegations that the COVID-19 virus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured) during an ABC News interview on Sunday, saying: ‘I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan’

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China’s state broadcaster CCTV took aim at Trump’s top diplomat in a commentary segment entitled ‘Evil Pompeo is wantonly spewing poison and spreading lies’.

‘The so-called “virus leaked from a Wuhan lab” hype is a complete and utter lie,’ CCTV stated

‘American politicians are rushing to shift the blame, cheat votes and suppress China when their own domestic anti-epidemic efforts are a mess.’

China has faced broad criticism over its handling of the virus amid a growing consensus that the government suppressed the scale of its early outbreak, thereby limiting the amount of time other nations had to prepare for their own.  

A Department of Homeland Security report shared on Sunday revealed US officials believe China ‘intentionally concealed the severity’ of the outbreak in early January in order to hoard medical supplies.   

Trump continued to point the finger at Beijing during a virtual town hall meeting hosted by Fox News on Sunday, saying there was enough evidence to prove that President Xi Jinping’s regime misled the global community. 

‘Well, I don’t think there’s any question about it. We wanted to go in, they didn’t want us to go in. Things are coming out that are pretty compelling. I don’t think there’s any question,’ Trump said.

‘Personally, I think they made a horrible mistake, and they didn’t want to admit it.’   

Trump continued to point the finger at Beijing during a virtual town hall meeting hosted by Fox News on Sunday, saying there was enough evidence to prove that President Xi Jinping's regime misled the global community. Trump and Jinping are pictured together in June 2019

Trump continued to point the finger at Beijing during a virtual town hall meeting hosted by Fox News on Sunday, saying there was enough evidence to prove that President Xi Jinping’s regime misled the global community. Trump and Jinping are pictured together in June 2019

Those allegations were further fueled by a report in Australia’s Daily Telegraph which described how Beijing made whistleblowers ‘disappear’, destroyed early virus samples and scrubbed the internet of any mention of the disease in the early stages.

The Telegraph report cited a 15-page dossier it claimed was compiled by the Five Eyes security alliance – which is made up of intelligence agencies from the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 

But now insiders are saying the dossier was not culled from Five Eyes intelligence – and that the alliance’s true assessment contradicts claims by Trump and Pompeo that the virus originated in a lab. 

Two Western officials familiar with the Five Eyes assessment told CNN that intelligence indicates the outbreak started at a Chinese market. 

‘We think it’s highly unlikely it was an accident,’ one official said.  

‘It is highly likely it was naturally occurring and that the human infection was from natural human and animal interaction.’  

The officials said that Five Eyes nations are coalescing around the alliance’s assessment – though none of their governments have spoken about it publicly.   

WHO says has no proof from US on ‘speculative’ Wuhan lab claims 

The World Health Organization said on Monday that Washington had provided no evidence to support ‘speculative’ claims by the US president that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab.

‘We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus – so from our perspective, this remains speculative,’ WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual briefing.

Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.

Top US epidemiologist Anthony Fauci echoed the WHO’s statement in an interview published Monday evening by National Geographic.

‘If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, (the scientific evidence) is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,’ Fauci told the magazine.

‘Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that (this virus) evolved in nature and then jumped species,’ he said.

US President Donald Trump, increasingly critical of China’s management of the outbreak, claims to have proof it started in a Wuhan laboratory.

And US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said ‘enormous evidence’ backed up that claim, although the US intelligence community last week said it would continue to study whether the outbreak stemmed from infected animal contact, or a lab accident.

China has vehemently denied suggestions the lab was the source.

‘Like any evidence-based organisation, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus,’ Ryan said, stressing that this was ‘a very important piece of public health information for future control.

‘If that data and evidence is available, then it will be for the United States government to decide whether and when it can be shared, but it is difficult for the WHO to operate in an information vacuum in that regard,’ he added.

Science at the centre

The UN health agency – which has also faced scathing criticism from Trump over accusations it initially downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak to shield China – has repeatedly said the virus clearly appears to have originated naturally from an animal source.

WHO expert Maria Van Kerkhove stressed during Monday’s briefing that there were some 15,000 full genome sequences of the novel coronavirus available, and ‘from all of the evidence that we have seen… this virus is of natural origin.’

While coronaviruses generally originate in bats, both Van Kerkhove and Ryan stressed the importance of discovering how the virus that causes COVID-19 crossed over to humans, and what animal served as an ‘intermediary host’ along the way.

‘We need to understand more about that natural origin, and particularly about intermediate hosts,’ Ryan said.

It was important to know ‘so that we can put in place the right public health and animal-human interface policies that will prevent this happening again,’ he stressed.

The WHO said last week it wanted to be invited to take part in Chinese investigations into the animal origins of the pandemic, which in a matter of months has killed more than 250,000 people worldwide.

‘We have offered, as we do with every case in every country, assistance with carrying out those investigations,’ Ryan said Monday.

‘We can learn from Chinese scientists,’ he said.

But he warned that if questions about the virus’s origin were ‘projected as aggressive investigation of wrongdoing, than I believe that’s much more difficult to deal with. That is a political issue.

‘Science needs to be at the centre,’ he said.

‘If we have a science-based investigation and a science-based enquiry as to what the origin species and the intermediate species are, then that will benefit everybody on the planet.’

China has faced broad criticism over its handling of the virus amid a growing consensus that the government suppressed the scale of its early outbreak, thereby limiting the amount of time other nations had to prepare for their own. Medical workers are seen tending to a COVID-19 patient at a Chinese hospital in April

China has faced broad criticism over its handling of the virus amid a growing consensus that the government suppressed the scale of its early outbreak, thereby limiting the amount of time other nations had to prepare for their own. Medical workers are seen tending to a COVID-19 patient at a Chinese hospital in April

A third source from a Five Eyes nation told CNN that the level of certainty being conveyed by Trump and Pompeo is far beyond that of the current assessment.  

That source acknowledged that there’s still a possibility the virus originated in a lab but cautioned that there is no evidence to make that a legitimate theory yet.  

They said ‘clearly the market is where [the virus] exploded from’ – but how it got there remains unclear.  

They also said its possible that the US has intelligence that it isn’t sharing with the Five Eyes alliance. While member nations purportedly share the overwhelming majority of their intelligence with the alliance, there are certain pockets of information that they keep to themselves.  

The officials’ assertions about the Five Eyes assessment are likely to increase pressure on the Trump administration to provide evidence to back up the lab origin claim – which it has failed to do so far. 

The US intelligence community issued a statement on Thursday saying it is still working to ‘determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan’.

The statement did conclude that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.  

Intelligence sources told the Guardian that British and other Five Eyes agencies do believe Beijing has not been transparent about the origins of the virus – but they are concerned about getting involved in an escalating international situation.  

Fears are mounting that the conflict between the US and China could escalate into an armed confrontation. 

Relations between the two countries are widely seen to be at their worst point in decades, with deepening mistrust and friction points from US allegations of unfair trade and technology practices to disputes over Hong Kong, Taiwan and contested territories in the South China Sea.

Fears are mounting that the conflict between the US and China could escalate into an armed confrontation in the South China Sea. American aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan and USS John C Stennis (pictured) are currently stationed in the Pacific

 

Fears are mounting that the conflict between the US and China could escalate into an armed confrontation in the South China Sea. American aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan and USS John C Stennis (pictured) are currently stationed in the Pacific 

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning is seen during a Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy drill in the western Pacific Ocean

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning is seen during a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy drill in the western Pacific Ocean

Classified Chinese report warns of ‘armed confrontation’ between Beijing and Washington US, sources reveal 

Beijing could face a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into ‘armed confrontation’, an internal Chinese report has warned.

The report, presented early last month by the Ministry of State Security to top Beijing leaders including President Xi Jinping, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the sources said.

As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the United States in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for armed confrontation between the two global powers, according to people familiar with the report’s content, who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

US President Donald Trump is pictured meeting with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019

 

US President Donald Trump is pictured meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019

The report was drawn up by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China’s top intelligence body.

Although the briefing paper remains disclosed, the content of the document was described to Reuters by people who had direct knowledge of its findings.

‘I don’t have relevant information,’ the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson’s office said in a statement responding to questions from Reuters on the report.

China’s Ministry of State Security has no public contact details and could not be reached for comment.

CICIR, an influential think tank that until 1980 was within the Ministry of State Security and advises the Chinese government on foreign and security policy, did not reply to a request for comment.

The Tiananmen Square crackdown is immortalised by the above picture called the 'Tank Man', which shows a student holding bags of grocers standing in front of a row of tanks to protest at the clampdown by the armies against its own people. The picture was taken by AP photographer Jeff Widener from a sixth-floor balcony of the Beijing Hotel near Tiananmen

The Tiananmen Square crackdown is immortalised by the above picture called the ‘Tank Man’, which shows a student holding bags of grocers standing in front of a row of tanks to protest at the clampdown by the armies against its own people. The picture was taken by AP photographer Jeff Widener from a sixth-floor balcony of the Beijing Hotel near Tiananmen

But the presentation of the report shows how seriously Beijing takes the threat of a building backlash that could threaten what China sees as its strategic investments overseas and its view of its security standing, according to Reuters.

Relations between China and the United States are widely seen to be at their worst point in decades, with deepening mistrust and friction points from US allegations of unfair trade and technology practices to disputes over Hong Kong, Taiwan and contested territories in the South China Sea.

In recent days, US President Donald Trump, facing a more difficult re-election campaign as the coronavirus has claimed tens of thousands of American lives and ravaged the U.S. economy, has been ramping up his criticism of Beijing and threatening new tariffs on China. His administration, meanwhile, is considering retaliatory measures against China over the outbreak, officials said.

It is widely believed in Beijing that the United States wants to contain a rising China, which has become more assertive globally as its economy has grown.

Arab Observer

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