The Chinese Foreign Ministry spent almost 9 minutes at a routine press conference on Thursday to question the shameless, ungrounded and repeated rumors by US politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that had falsely accused China of concealing COVID-19 data.
When asked to comment on a foreign report that three anonymous US intelligence officials accused China of concealing the real situation on the COVID-19 epidemic, and that the figures China provided to the world are fake, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that Pence and Pompeo also made similar statements on Wednesday.
These accusations claimed China intentionally hid epidemic-related information and published fake ones, and some even claimed China began to tackle the epidemic back in December 2019, when the world did not even know about the issue.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has said several times that China has been open, transparent and responsible in its fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, and has been releasing information to the international community without hiding, Hua said, noting that people should also know the answer from the information that Chinese authorities released on a daily basis.
Topics on international public health security should be judged by the World Health Organization (WHO) and experts of infectious diseases and disease control, not by politicians who only tell lies, Hua said, noting that the groundless accusations on China's lack of information transparency was slammed by officials at a WHO press conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
"We have much sympathy for the US as the US is facing a serious domestic epidemic situation, and I can understand that some people in the US are eager to blame someone else for the situation. We do not want to have any meaningless debate, but these handful of people are repeatedly spreading rumors and slandering without any moral bottom line, leaving me with no choice but to list the facts and truth to you," Hua said.
"Wuhan was indeed the place that the disease was first spotted and publicly announced, but when and where did it really originate?" Hua asked.
There are many findings and reports on this question, including reports from Italy and theses by British, American and Australian experts published in top-level international academic journals.
In terms of finding the origin of the virus, China's position is consistent: This is a serious question that must be scientifically judged by professionals based on facts. These experts' opinions should be taken seriously and respected by all people, including those in the US, Hua said.
China has a clear timeline for dealing with the outbreak, as people can see from the public reports, Hua said.
On December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian, director of the department of respiratory and critical care medicine at a Hubei-based hospital, first reported three suspicious cases she had treated.
On December 29, the centers for disease control and prevention and hospitals in Wuhan launched an epidemiological investigation.
On the 30th, the Wuhan health commission issued an urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia with unknown causes.
On December 31, the expert group of the National Health Commission arrived in Wuhan to carry out an on-the-spot investigation.
On January 3, China formally began to take the initiative to report the disease situation to the WHO and other countries, including the US.
On January 8, the source of the outbreak was initially determined.
On the 11th, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published five novel coronavirus genome sequences, sharing data with WHO and the world.
On January 23, the Chinese government took unprecedented comprehensive, strict and thorough measures to close the passage of Wuhan. The decisive, timely and forceful measures taken by the Chinese government have protected the safety and health of the Chinese people and bought precious time to prevent the spread of the epidemic beyond China's border, Hua said.
"As I mentioned on Wednesday, Science magazine published a joint report by British and American researchers, saying that China's prevention and control measures have successfully broken the chain of transmission of the virus and bought valuable time for the rest of the world to take measures," the spokesperson said.
"I also noticed recently that US chief medical scientist Anthony Fauci said that he refused to comply with the request of some people in the US that China should inform the world or the US of the outbreak three months in advance, because that would not be true," she said.
Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet, a prominent medical journal, recently also told the BBC that the message from China was "absolutely clear and we wasted the whole month of February. It is a national scandal."
China has done its best to be open, transparent and responsible, Hua said.
"I would like to ask some responsible people on the US side … that if the US was the first country that discovered the epidemic, rather than China, would the US deal with the matter better than the Chinese government?" If they can, then please explain what the US has done in the past two months after it only took some measures before February, Hua said.
A New York Times report on March 11 said a female doctor in the US started to "whistle" the outbreak in the US as early as January. She issued a warning and reported the test results in February. But why did US supervision organs order her to shut her mouth and stop testing? Hua asked.
Why did the White House require US officials, health departments, and experts to obtain approval from Pence before making a public statement about the epidemic? Why did the US CDC stop publishing data of the number of tests and deaths on March 2?
Why did Matt McCarthy from New York-Presbyterian Hospital tell CNBC on March 2 that his hospital even begged the health department to detect suspected patients? I think many reports, including Bloomberg's, are calling on US officials to stop making excuses and looking for scapegoats for their poor response, Hua said.
We understand and sympathize with the Americans who are suffering. We are willing to support the US within our ability in a humanitarian spirit. But the words and actions of some US politicians are shameless and unethical. Stigmatization, slandering and blame cannot make up for the lost time but continued lying will only waste more time and cause more deaths, Hua said.
"At this moment, I sincerely suggest that they as politicians put the safety and health of the people above politics. It is extremely immoral and inhuman to continue political manipulation. Their behavior should be condemned by the peoples of the world, including the American people."
The US should immediately adjust their work priorities and directions, and put all their efforts on how to fight the epidemic and save the lives of the American people, Hua said.