|US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a teleconference with governors at FEMA's headquarters, in Washington, DC. © Reuters / Evan Vucci|
Beijing has called on Washington to address the concerns of its own citizens about the US response to the Covid-19 pandemic, while condemning American politicians for shifting blame for the crisis squarely onto China’s shoulders.
Asked to comment on a series of American media reports on the US government’s slow and often inept response to the health crisis on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang relayed some of the questions raised by the reporting, asking whether Washington may have swept information about the virus under the rug.
“Recently there have been many voices in the United States that question and worry about whether the US government has responded to the epidemic in a timely and effective manner,” Geng said, adding that he hopes the US will soon address these questions.
They wanted to get the facts straight: when did the first case occur in the United States? Is the US government hiding something? Why is it so desperately seeking to pin the blame on other countries and international organizations?
Growing doubts over the US government’s handling of the #COVID19, e.g. When did the first infection occur in the US? Is the US government hiding something? Why they opt to blame others? American people and the international community need an answer from the US government.— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) April 27, 2020
The spokesman’s comments come as US officials and lawmakers step up a rhetorical assault on Beijing, with both major parties issuing talking points to members instructing them to shift public discussion about the virus to attacks on China. US President Donald Trump has also taken to slamming Beijing in recent weeks, increasingly accusing the country of “covering up” its coronavirus outbreak with help from the World Health Organization (WHO), while also refusing to dismiss rumors that the pathogen may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory.
Insisting that any effort to pin responsibility on his country would fail, Geng said both the US and China had been “victims” of the virus, dubbing it a “common enemy of mankind.”
“Why do some political forces in the United States always do everything possible to attack and discredit China through the epidemic situation?” the spokesman asked, adding later in the briefing that “some politicians are politically manipulating the origin of the virus to attack and discredit other countries, and their attempts will not succeed.”
As the blame game grinds on, the state of Missouri has moved ahead with a lawsuit against China – including national, provincial and city governments, among other Chinese entities – accusing the nation of “causing a global pandemic” and “enormous death, suffering, and economic losses,” seeking billions in restitution payments. Actually proving its far-reaching case is another matter, however, as no compelling evidence of a Chinese “cover-up” has yet emerged, while Beijing maintains it provided the international community with information on the virus as soon as it was available.