Pompeo steps up pressure on China over outbreak

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday stepped up a US campaign to hold China accountable for the spread of the deadly coronavirus, asserting there is “enormous evidence” the virus originated in a laboratory in the city of Wuhan.

The high-security bio-containment facility, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has called such claims “impossible.”

Pompeo, speaking on ABC’s This Week, did not elaborate on what he also described as “significant amounts of evidence.” But Pompeo’s words clearly sought to buttress repeated criticism from Donald Trump about China’s role in the pandemic.

The US president has said that by playing down the gravity of the virus early this year and failing to fully cooperate with international investigators, Beijing put lives at risk around the world.

Pompeo’s comments came as an Australian newspaper, The Saturday Telegraph, reported that China had deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence about the outbreak in an “assault on international transparency” that cost tens of thousands of lives.

The report cited what it said was a 15-page dossier on the COVID-19 contagion prepared by the so-called Five Eyes intelligence agencies of the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. 

Pompeo, a former director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, made no mention of the Five Eyes report, but said that “there is enormous evidence that this [Wuhan] is where it began.”

Last week, Pompeo indicated he had not seen definitive proof. “We don’t know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of virology,” he said at the time.

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