WASHINGTON, DC, 20 December 2020
Urging the international community to demand transparency from China about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the US has accused Beijing of “obstructing” a World Health Organisation (WHO) probe into the origin of the deadly virus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and “peddling” questionable vaccines one year after the disease broke out.
The US leads the world with over 17,442,100 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 313,000 deaths.
“Even today, nearly a year after the world first learned of the outbreak, the Chinese Communist Party is still spreading disinformation regarding the virus and obstructing a WHO investigation into its origin and spread,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
“It is also peddling vaccines that lack essential data on safety and efficacy, due to a fundamental disregard for transparency and accountability regarding results from clinical trials. Both actions put Chinese citizens, and the world, at risk,” he said.
Mr Pompeo said nations of the world should demand transparency from Beijing about the origin and spread of the pandemic that has led to more than one million lives lost and millions of livelihoods ruined. If they do not do so, China’s record of public-health crises makes another future pandemic originating from China depressingly likely.
“It has now been a year since China first identified a patient in Wuhan stricken with an unknown pneumonia, now known as COVID-19. Since then, the US and other free nations, such as Germany and the UK, have led a remarkable and unprecedented vaccine development effort that is delivering hope across the world,” he said.
The US on Friday authorised the emergency use of the anti-coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna, a week after the one co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech received a similar approval.
Mr Pompeo said the pandemic is “no accident”.
“Time and again, democracies that value transparency, the rule of law, property rights, and free-market capitalism have produced innovative solutions to public health crises…In contrast, authoritarian regimes control information and stifle innovation,” he said.
China punished brave Chinese scientists, doctors and journalists who tried to alert the world to the dangers of the spreading virus, allowing a controllable outbreak to become a global pandemic, Mr Pompeo alleged.
China has rejected Mr Pompeo’s previous statements on the coronavirus outbreak as politically motivated.
Meanwhile, the US on Thursday imposed new restrictions on certain entities for activities that undermine its national security and foreign policy interests.
Specifically, the Department of Commerce added 59 Chinese entities to its export-control Entity List.
The US added four entities to the Entity List for enabling human rights abuses within China by providing DNA-testing materials or high-technology surveillance equipment to the Chinese government.
“We urge the Chinese Communist Party to respect the human rights of the people of China, including Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Falun Gong members, Uyghur Muslims, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups,” the State Department said.
Additionally, the Department of Commerce added 19 entities to the Entity List for systematically coordinating and committing more than a dozen instances of theft of trade secrets from US corporations to advance the Chinese defence industrial complex.
It alleged that China was engaging in activities that undermine US efforts to counter illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials or was using American exports to support the Chinese army and its defence industrial base, whose ultimate goal is to surpass the capabilities of other countries they view as competitors, particularly the US.
These new restrictions also impose costs on Beijing’s unlawful campaign of coercion in the South China Sea.
The Department of Commerce added 25 shipbuilding research institutes affiliated with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation to the Entity List, as well as six other entities that provide research, development, and manufacturing support for the People’s Liberation Army Navy or attempted to acquire US-origin items in support of the People’s Liberation Army’s programmes.