China says recent accusations by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump that the Covid-19 pandemic originated in a lab in Wuhan are a political strategy for Republicans ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Speaking at a regular press briefing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters:
“We urge the US to stop spreading disinformation or misleading the international community. It should deal with its own problems and deal with the pandemic at home. I believe the strategy of the Republicans in their election shows that all too clear, and now we are fed up with such tricks.”
“Mr Pompeo cannot present any evidence because he has not got any, this matter should be handled by scientists and not politicians out of their domestic political needs,” Hua added.
Responding to comments from Trump about possibly levying tariffs in retaliation, Hua said: “The facts show that tariffs are not good weapons, they impact all parties negatively, under current circumstances tariffs should not be used as weapons."
When asked about a Reuters report that a Chinese government think tank had issued a document to leaders saying the US and China could potentially end up in armed conflict over growing global anti-China sentiment, Hua said: “As to the question of whether this will result in military conflict, of course this is not what we want to see. China loves peace, we believe that cooperation in fighting the epidemic should deepen mutual cooperation.”
Hua also addressed accusations that the country was profiting from the virus, saying, “China’s so called cover-up or profiting from the virus are just baseless,” and that as of May 1, China has provided “5.3 billion masks to the US and 330 million surgical gloves, 38.8 million protective suits and 5.98 million goggles, and 7,500 ventilators.”
US allegations: Pompeo said Sunday in an interview with ABC that there was "enormous evidence" Covid-19 originated in a laboratory in Wuhan. He did not provide details to support the claim.
China has also faced criticism over its handling of the virus, especially during the initial outbreak. It was accused of silencing whistleblowers and delaying informing the public about the severity of the crisis.
A report by the US Department of Homeland Security found that the Chinese government intentionally concealed the severity of the virus from the international community while it stockpiled imports and decreased exports, according to two administration officials familiar with the report.
Chinese response: Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang has admitted that the city's "warnings were not sufficient," and offered to resign.