Republicans whack China over coronavirus as Trump plays nice

“The bottom line is the WHO’s actions and China’s actions killed a lot of people. We would have been way farther ahead if we believed in the first part of January there was local transmission,” Scott said. “And we would’ve gotten ahead on the testing, we would’ve gotten ahead on the protective gear, we would’ve gotten ahead on the ventilators. And so there are people who are dead now, and it’s all because China didn’t do the right thing and the WHO didn’t do the right thing.”

But President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seem to be biting their tongues when it comes to criticizing Beijing directly. Trump has recently talked up his close relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, especially after the two leaders spoke by phone late last month about the pandemic, though on Tuesday he told reporters he was considering cutting federal funding for the WHO over its coronavirus response and being “very China-centric.” The Trump administration, too, has faced criticism over its mixed messaging on the virus in the early stages of the outbreak.

Pompeo was asked Tuesday why he has stopped using the phrase “Wuhan virus,” a reference to the Chinese city where the disease is believed to have originated. He sidestepped the question, instead delivering a lengthy statement about the need for countries to be open and transparent about the virus’ effect on their populations. Notably, he did not use the word “China.”