China Claims U.S. Is 'Slandering' Beijing With Report on Coronavirus Cover-Up, Calls Trump Administration 'Inhumane'

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has hit out at a U.S. intelligence report suggesting Beijing is covering up the true scale of its coronavirus outbreak, claiming again that the White House is politicizing the crisis to try and divert attention from its slow response.

Speaking at a news briefing on Thursday, ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said American suggestions that China has underreported the number of coronavirus infections and deaths within the country were "shameless and immoral," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

A U.S. intelligence report sent to the White House last week alleged that China is not releasing the true number of coronavirus infected and dead. China has been celebrated for its apparent quick suppression of the virus, achieved via draconian lockdown measures. But the intelligence findings and reports on the number of cremations in Wuhan—where the virus originated—have prompted skepticism.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are among those who have publicly alleged that Beijing is not being fully transparent about its COVID-19 outbreak.

But Hua said Thursday: "China has been giving open, transparent and timely updates to the world as demonstrated clearly in the details my colleagues and I have elaborated on China's response many times."

Hua suggested people listen to the World Health Organization (WHO)—which has been criticized for its failure to hold China to account—rather than politicians who are habitual liars.

"The decisive and strong measures taken by the Chinese government ensured to the highest possible extent the life, safety and health of the Chinese people and bought precious time for stemming the global spread of the virus," Hua said.

"We understand that the United States is facing difficulties and some U.S. officials are under pressure, and we feel deeply for the hardship of the American people," Hua continued. "Out of humanitarian spirit, we would like to provide help and support within our capability to the United States in the fight against the pandemic."

But Hua warned: "Slandering, smearing and blaming cannot make up for lost time and more lies will only waste more time and lead to more lives lost."

"We advise these politicians that, at this moment, they should put the safety of people's lives and health before politics," she said. "It is immoral and inhumane to continue to politicize public health issues, which should be condemned by all people of the world, including people of the United States."

China has been criticized for initially seeking to hide the outbreak, silencing whistleblowers and taking too long to inform the WHO of the problem. The Chinese Communist Party has also been accused of peddling disinformation, for example, a conspiracy theory that the U.S. Army was behind the Wuhan outbreak.

A vicious war of words has developed between Washington and Beijing, though Chinese medical supplies are being sent to under-resourced medical teams in the U.S.

Trump and Pompeo have been accused of racism for repeatedly referring to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan Virus" or "Chinese Virus," which Beijing has characterized as an effort to divert attention away from the administration's bungling of the crisis.

China, coronavirus, report, US, Donald Trump, cover-up
A man wears a mask as part of precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus as life in Beijing gradually returns to normal on April 1, 2020 in Beijing, China. Fred Lee/Getty Images/Getty