U.S. Officials: China Covered Up Outbreak to Stock Up on Medical Supplies

U.S. officials have begun to sharpen their case against China in recent days, arguing now that there is explicit evidence that Beijing had a very strong motive for covering up the severity and nature of the coronavirus pandemic in the early days of the outbreak: Namely, they wanted to use that time to hoard medical supplies to curb the virus’s spread within their own borders.

From the Associated Press:

Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1 and obtained by The Associated Press. The revelation comes as the Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Sunday that that country was responsible for the spread of disease and must be held accountable.

The sharper rhetoric coincides with administration critics saying the government’s response to the virus was slow and inadequate. President Donald Trump’s political opponents have accused him of lashing out at China, a geopolitical foe but critical U.S. trade partner, in an attempt to deflect criticism at home.

Not classified but marked “for official use only,” the DHS analysis states that, while downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies. It attempted to cover up doing so by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” the analysis states.

In addition to identifying evidence pointing to China’s motivations in the early days of the outbreak, U.S. officials are also pushing a theory that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and not, as previously thought, from a seafood market in the city. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this was almost certainly the truth.

“Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories,” Pompeo noted. “These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab. And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that, and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

The truth about this coronavirus will come out eventually, and we can’t see any way that Beijing will come out of this with their hands clean – much less the global “heroes” that they are trying to paint themselves as. There must be consequences for their lies, inaction, and deliberate deception, all of which turned this into a much bigger health disaster than it needed to be.

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