There’s one thing the Trump administration wants Americans to remember about the coronavirus pandemic: It carries the “Made in China” label.
Trump administration officials, on the defensive about their own handling of the virus, have repeatedly reminded people that the virus started in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referring to it as the “Wuhan coronavirus.” President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, went even further on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” O’Brien said at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington.
“There’s lots of open-source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals, that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation, or that sort of thing, so that the word of this virus could not get out. It probably cost the world community two months.”
O’Brien said that if experts would have had those two months to get ahead of the spread of the virus, “I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world.”
O’Brien’s remarks seemed to be aimed at countering a disinformation campaign that Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says China’s Communist Party is waging to blame the US for the virus so it can dampen discontent in China, distract from true infection rates and “save face internationally.”
“The Chinese military portal Xilu.com recently published an article baselessly claiming that the virus is ‘a biochemical weapon produced by the US to target China,'” Rubio wrote.
China, however, says it is helping the international community battle the virus. UN Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters at UN headquarters in New York that Beijing is working closely with other countries and have provided medical supplies to nations, including Korea, Japan and Italy.
“We are sending medical teams to countries that need that, and we will do whatever to join the international community to fight this virus … because we have only one world, we need to join hands, we need to show solidarity.”
Rubio claims that besides China, disinformation is coming from Russia and Iran, the hardest-hit country in the Middle East.
“In Qom, ground zero of Iran’s coronavirus outbreak, a prominent cleric accused the United States of introducing the virus ‘to damage (the city’s) culture and honor,'” Rubio wrote.
While Trump has lauded Chinese President Xi Jinping’s work to respond to the virus, Trump himself has referred to China’s Coronavirus situation.”
Trump has been criticised for playing down the virus, contradicting his own public health officials and concentrating more on the economic fallout from the outbreak.
In a speech to the nation Wednesday night he referred to the foreign virus that “started in China.”
Meanwhile, the virus has infected over 1400 people in the States and killed at least 40 people.