When Chinese scientists identified a mystery virus in December 2019, they were ordered to stop tests, destroy samples, and suppress the news. When Chinese medical professionals began to sound the alarm, they were seized by police. For weeks, when Chinese state media went on air or to print, they ignored the virus’s spread. When government cadres heard rumors of some new SARS-like virus, they kept their heads down and continued praising party leader Xi Jinping.

China’s strategy to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, though later praised by the World Health Organization and scientists worldwide, consisted of cover-ups, lies, and repression. It also failed miserably, exposing the world to this deadly sickness.

After claiming yesterday to have no new cases of the virus, China is now trying to take a victory lap, emphasizing the strength of its response—and the United States’ apparent failures—while spreading conspiracies that the U.S. government manufactured the virus. And while U.S. President Donald Trump’s sluggishness toward the outbreak merits criticism, China’s endangering of the world with its initial incompetence is certainly more to blame.