“China could have spared the world a descent into global economic malaise. They had a choice but instead – instead – China covered up the outbreak in Wuhan.”
He said intelligence agencies and governments around the world were “trying to figure out the right answer” on the origins of the virus.
“We’re all trying to get to clarity,” he said. “There are different levels of certainty assessed at different places. That’s highly appropriate. People stare at data sets and come to different levels of confidence. Every one of us stares at this and knows the reality. The reality of this came from Wuhan.”
His renewed criticism of China’s handling of the early stages of the pandemic marks a new rise in tensions between the two countries.
The Chinese and US governments have been exchanging a war of words over the coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected 3.7 million and killed more than 260,000 worldwide. The US is the hardest-hit country, with over 1.25 million cases and 73,000 deaths.
Beijing also hit back at some of Mr Pompeo’s claims during a press briefing and called on the Secretary of State to “show” proof China was responsible.
“He said there was ‘enormous evidence’, then show us,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
The Chinese government targeted both the Australian government and media this past week, hitting back at Australian media reports claiming it deliberately concealed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak, and warning it could exacerbate tensions between the two countries.
“Some Australian media and political elites have lost their independent judgment of the country’s overall interests and have adopted a US-led approach to smearing China over COVID-19. They are hurting the profound friendship between the two peoples and the common interests that have long coalesced,” a report in the Global Times said.
Last week China said Mr Morrison deserved “a slap in the face” for trying to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on the communist state, warning any push for an independent inquiry into the virus’ origins will spark a travel and trade boycott.