Asked Monday whether China should “pay for the damage done” by the novel coronavirus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed any immediate punitive action against Beijing and stressed the need for global cooperation to prevent a recurrence of the pandemic.
He also said “there’ll be a time for recriminations” in the future. He did not specifically say that those recriminations would be aimed at China.
“There’ll be a time to make sure that we all understand what happened and that those who are responsible are held accountable for that,” Pompeo said in an interview with German BILD-TV on Monday. “I’m very confident that that process will take place.”
Pompeo said the administration was focused on “looking forward,” noting “we’re trying to find our path to making sure that we reduce risk as we move forward in the days and weeks and months ahead.”
“For the moment, I think it’s absolutely essential that we focus on the task ahead of us, getting systems in place such that we can reopen the American economy, and ultimately the global economy as well. There’ll be a time for recriminations,” he said.
Pompeo said there needed to be “more than a global debate” about whether the Chinese government should be held accountable for the pandemic.
“It’s important to understand how this began, where this began, where it originated, and that’s science,” he said. “We’ve seen these stories about Chinese wet markets, we’ve seen stories about precisely where this virus originated, and it’s important that the whole world gets this.”