China to Pompeo: You're bluffing on evidence of a lab leak for COVID-19

Is he? Mike Pompeo insists that while the US does not have conclusive evidence that the COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, it does have “significant evidence” pointing in that direction. China’s Foreign Ministry tried going on offense by accusing Pompeo of passing off a “lie for [his] own domestic political ends,” apparently lacking any sense of irony. Their spokesperson also stopped short of denying it altogether, just claiming that Pompeo has no evidence in hand:

China lashed out again Wednesday at claims by President Donald Trump and his top diplomat that the U.S. has strong evidence suggesting the coronavirus slipped out of an infectious disease research facility in the city of Wuhan and then into the human population. …

“Mr. Pompeo repeatedly spoke up but he cannot present any evidence. How can he? Because he doesn’t have any,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday. “I think this matter should be handed to scientists and medical professionals, and not politicians who lie for their own domestic political ends.”

China’s initial efforts to silence doctors in Wuhan who raised the alarm about cases of a new virus appearing in hospitals there late last year, along with allegations the central government in Beijing sought to cover up or at least downplay the severity of the disease, have fueled the allegations and conspiracy theories about its true origins.

Bear in mind that another Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, spent much of March spreading the rumor that the US Army planted COVID-19 in Wuhan, both from the podium and on Twitter. China’s US ambassador finally had to issue an indirect public rebuke to Zhao to get him to stop passing that lie around. No one knows lying “for their own domestic political ends” like the Xi Jinping regime.

The Wall Street Journal also reported on the pushback from China, whose regime is clearly getting worried that their cover-up leaves this a very attractive theory:

China challenged U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to present evidence that would back his recent claim that the new coronavirus came from a Chinese laboratory.

The comment by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was the first official Chinese government reaction to Mr. Pompeo’s statement. It was the latest effort by Beijing to counter the Trump administration’s moves to blame China for the virus outbreak that has infected more than 3.6 million people world-wide.

Having tried to call Pompeo’s bid, Pompeo simply upped the ante later in the morning. Not only has China not cooperated or come clean about the origin of COVID-19, Pompeo said, their secrecy and cover-up cost the world “hundreds of thousands of lives.” Plus, Pompeo added, we do have evidence of a lab leak, even if it’s not definitive:

“They knew. China could have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. China could have spared the world descent into global economic malaise,” Pompeo told a State Department news conference.

“China is still refusing to share the information we need to keep people safe.” …

On Wednesday, he said the United State did not have certainty, but there was significant evidence it came from the lab.

“Every one of those statements is entirely consistent,” he said. “We are all trying to figure out the right answer. We are all trying to get the clarity. There are different levels of certainty assessed at different places, Pompeo said.

Well, there’s one way to settle this. China could open its books, release all of those it has detained who tried to speak up about the viral outbreak, and allow international inspectors to conduct a thorough investigation. That’s all the US really wants, Pompeo told the media today:

“They continue to be opaque, they continue to deny access for this important information that our research or epidemiologists need,” he said.

“People say, well America’s bullying the Chinese. We are demanding of them only what we demand of every nation: be transparent, be open, be a reliable partner, the very things that they say. The Chinese say they want to cooperate. Great. Cooperation is about action.”

So far, their actions speak much louder than their words. The extent and ferocity of Beijing’s actions to keep quiet about the outbreak certainly suggests that this isn’t just another case of crossover, as was the case with SARS. Their continuing propaganda, and especially their risible official attempts to pin the blame on the US Army, set the tone for the US-China relationship. If China keeps asking for the evidence, sooner or later Pompeo will start sharing it with Beijing’s other trading partners. What will they say then — when it’s a little too late?