The US intelligence agency body CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) believes China had tried to pressurise the World Health Organisation (WHO) to prevent it from declaring the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. The claim was made in a report in Newsweek.
According to the report, CIA has said in one of its own intelligence reports that China had threatened WHO of stopping cooperation with the global health watchdog if coronavirus is declared a global health emergency.
This happened in January when coronavirus cases started to be reported in large numbers from countries like Spain and Italy after it infected over 80,000 people in China.
The first cases of coronavirus were reported in Wuhan as early as December. Now, the virus has spread to over 180 countries and killed over 2,90,000 people across the world. The United States is now the worst-affected country with over 1.4 million coronavirus cases in the country and death toll above 83,000.
US President Donald Trump has been constant with his attacks on China over the coronavirus pandemic that has brought global majors like the US on its knees. Trump even suggested that the deadly virus was a result of an experiment that went wrong in a laboratory in Wuhan.
Now, with the CIA report pointing at China trying to downplay the magnitude of coronavirus pandemic in the early days of the outbreak, it is likely to become another flashpoint in the US-China relations.
According to Newsweek, this is the second such intelligence report hinting at China trying to manipulate WHO on the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier, a German intelligence report had also hinted that Chinese president Xi Jinping had personally tried to intervene in WHO’s declaration of the pandemic.
However, WHO officials have clarified that the global body had acted in its own accord, following its mandate. The report has quoted WHO officials denying WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Xi Jinping having any conversation in January.
Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic on January 30 when WHO called it a public health emergency. Tedros has since mentioned time and again how China cannot be blamed for the coronavirus outbreak taking such proportions across the world.
Trump has publicly hit out at WHO and also sought to withdraw US’s funding of the body over its perceived favouring of China.