Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks

Bloomberg: There is a report today citing three US intelligence officials that China concealed the extent of the virus, under-reporting both total cases and deaths. Two of the officials also said that the report concluded that China's numbers were not real. Do yo have any comment on this?

Hua Chunying: As a Bloomberg reporter, you must be well aware of recent US media reports on the epidemic situation at home and the administration's response. When you raised this question, I believe you already had an answer in your mind and just wanted to get it confirmed.

I noted many US media's reports on what you mentioned. US Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo said similar things on April 1 to accuse China of covering up the epidemic. They even claimed that China was dealing with the epidemic in December more than a month earlier before the world learned about it.

My colleagues and I have been elaborating on all the details of China's response, which shows clearly that China has been giving open, transparent and timely updates to the world. I believe you may have drawn the same conclusion based on the daily information released by the Chinese government. On international public health security, we should listen to WHO and experts on epidemiology and disease control rather than several politicians who are habitual liars. In fact, just yesterday, a senior WHO official refuted unwarranted accusations on "China's untransparent data" in a press conference in Geneva. We sympathize with the US people as they are facing a severe situation, and I can imagine why some in the US are trying so hard to shift the blame. We don't want to get into any meaningless argument with them. But in response to their endless, immoral slanders, I feel I have no choice but to take a few moments to clarify the truth once again.

It is true that Wuhan was where COVID-19 cases were first reported. But where and when exactly did this virus originate? We read many recent reports and findings on that. There are articles written by medical professionals from Italy, the UK, the US, Australia and other countries, which are published in top academic journals including Nature Medicine. On the origin of the virus, the Chinese government's position has been consistent. It is a serious matter that requires scientific, fact-based and professional assessment made by experts. Now there are various reports on experts' science-based and authoritative opinions. These views should be valued and respected by all, including those politicians in the US. China invited WHO experts to visit Wuhan as part of a joint mission. As some in the US are so obsessed with the issue, we advise the US side to also invite WHO and international experts to visit the country and find out the truth.

The timeline of China's response is very clear, as you can gather from media reports. On December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian, director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care at Hubei Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, reported the first three suspected cases. On December 29, Hubei and Wuhan health committees instructed related centers for disease control and prevention and hospitals to carry out epidemiological investigation. On December 30 Wuhan Municipal Health Committee issued an "urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause". On December 31, the NHC sent an expert group to Wuhan to investigate on site. On January 3, 2020, China started to send timely updates to WHO and other countries, including the US. On January 8, the pathogen was preliminarily identified. On January 11, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded five whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus on the GISAID website and shared data with the world and WHO. On January 23, Wuhan was put under lockdown and unprecedented comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures were adopted. By taking these decisive and strong measures, the Chinese government ensured to the highest possible extent the life, safety and health of the Chinese people and bought precious time for stemming the global spread of the virus. As I said yesterday, the journal Science published a paper by researchers in the United States, the UK and other countries saying that China's control measures worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission and bought other countries valuable time. Recently Dr. Fauci, the medical expert leading the White House effort to contain the coronavirus, reportedly said he refused to let others push him to say that China should warn the US three months beforehand, because it just doesn't comport with facts. The Lancet's editor said on BBC that "the message from China is very clear...we wasted February when we could have is a national scandal".

China has always been open, transparent and responsible in all its efforts. Can the few US individuals accusing China tell the world, if the outbreak had hit the US first, would it have handled the situation better than the Chinese government? If their answer is yes, I wonder if they could answer the following. On January 15, the US CDC issued warnings on pneumonia caused by the coronavirus. On January 25, the US announced the decision to close its consulate in Wuhan and withdraw all staff. On February 2, it banned entry of all Chinese nationals and foreign nationals who had been in China for the last 14 days. What the US has done in the two months since then? According to a New York Times report on March 11, Dr. Helen Y. Chu, a whistle-blower in the US, sounded the alarm on the epidemic in the US back in January and reported her testing results to US regulators, only to be told to "cease and desist" and "stop testing". At the end of February, the White House still asked officials and health experts to get approval from the office of Vice President Pence before making public statements on the epidemic. On March 2, the CDC stopped releasing data on tests and deaths. On March 2, Dr. McCarthy from the New York-Presbyterian Hospital said at a CNBC program that his hospital had to "plead" to health authorities to test suspected cases. Can they explain all this? I've seen many reports calling on US officials to stop seeking excuses and scapegoats for their poor response. We understand the US is facing difficulties and some officials are under pressure and feel deeply for the hardship of the American people. Out of humanitarian spirit, we would like to provide support and help to them as our ability permits. However, the comments by these few US politicians are just shameless and morally repulsive. As we've repeatedly said, slanders, smears and blame games cannot make up for lost time. More lies will only waste more time and lead to more lives lost. A word of advice to these politicians: at this moment, lives should come before politics. It is immoral and inhumane to politicize public health, which should be condemned by all in the US and beyond. I hope they will lose no more time and focus instead on fighting the pandemic and saving American lives.

I see you've been nodding in agreement. I hope you will help get my message across to the American people, including the few individuals who have been denigrating and smearing China. It would be much appreciated.


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