A senior official in the Chinese government pushed back on President Donald Trump's recent remarks about the covonavirus pandemic, where Trump said that China should somehow compensate the U.S. and the rest of the world for the crisis. The president has repeatedly criticized China for being the origin point of the virus, in spite of public health officials' warnings about unfounded stigma. On Tuesday, China's Executive Foreign Minister Le Yucheng fired back in an interview with NBC News.
Le sat down for a socially-distanced studio interview with NBC, conducted in Mandarin and translated on the spot. He responded to the president's "politicization" of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that Trump's rhetoric was counterproductive and not founded in legal precedent. He also rejected any claims that the Chinese government covered up the outbreak early on, saying that it should be viewed as a "natural disaster" and nothing more.
A top Chinese official is lashing out after President Trump demanded China compensate the world for the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “blackmail.” @janisfrayer has the exclusive interview. pic.twitter.com/lXlWEXceMw— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 29, 2020
"I want to say China has not covered anything up. We did not cause any delay," Le said. He also offered his "heartfelt sympathy" to those in the U.S. fighting the virus, but said that international cooperation was needed to fight it. He urged Americans to remember that "the true enemy of the United States is the COVID-19 virus," not China, adding: "I think its's really important for the U.S. government to find the right focus, the real enemy."
"Unfortunately, some political figures are politicizing this COVID-19. They’re using this virus to stigmatize China. This is not something we are willing to see," he added. As for the president's criticisms of the Chinese government, Le said echoed many other leaders from around the world in saying that Trump should have acted sooner to prepare for the outbreak.
"On Jan. 23 when Wuhan went under lockdown, the United States reported only one confirmed case, but on March 13 when President Trump announced a national emergency, the United States reported over 1,600 confirmed cases," Le said. "In this interval of 50 days, what was the U.S. government doing? Where have those 50 days gone?"
Finally, Le dismissed an "preposterous" notions about China paying reparations to the rest of the world for the pandemic. He said: "There is no international law that supports blaming a country for simply being the first to report a disease."0comments
Other members of Trump's administration have made similar comments, alarming politicians around the world. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly wrote that China will "pay a price" for the global outbreak, and the president has since ordered intelligence agencies to comb through all available transmissions and satellite imagery of China around the time the virus spread.
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