Chinese State Media Accuses Pompeo of 'Despicable' Coronavirus Lies As Allies Back Away From Wuhan Lab Theory

Chinese state media has continued its attacks on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as the enmity between Washington and Beijing deepens over accusations that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began at a research laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

President Donald Trump and Pompeo have both expressed confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is the origin point for the novel coronavirus that has spread worldwide, infecting more than 3.5 million people and killing more than 251,000, per Johns Hopkins University.

The Global Times newspaper—owned by the People's Daily, the official publication of the Chinese Communist Party—published an editorial Tuesday branding Pompeo a "liar" and suggesting his conduct does not fit with his Christian faith.

Pompeo "has kept spreading lies or misleading the public," according to the Global Times, which is often used to air nationalistic and antagonistic sentiments within the CCP. "His lying for political purposes is contrary to his label as a so-called 'devout Christian,'" the Global Times added.

The administration is yet to produce any evidence supporting the assertion. U.S. intelligence officials are investigating the possibility, though have concluded that the virus is not man-made nor otherwise genetically modified. The New York Times has also reported that the administration is leaning on intelligence officials to lend weight to its WIV accusations.

The dominant theory to date has been that the virus originated at a market in Wuhan where live wildlife was being sold alongside food. Here, researchers have proposed that the virus jumped from bats to humans, perhaps through an intermediary animal such as pangolins.

Chinese officials and state media have angrily rejected Trump and Pompeo's WIV allegations, framing U.S. criticism as an effort to deflect attention from the administration's handling of the crisis. The U.S. is now the global epicenter of the virus, with more than 1.1 million confirmed cases and almost 69,000 deaths.

The Trump administration appears to be standing alone on its WIV theory. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the World Health Organization have all said there is no indication that COVID-19 came from the WIV. All said that the Wuhan wildlife market remains the most likely origin point for the pandemic.

The Guardian also cited unnamed intelligence sources as saying that the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group—consisting of the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada—has no evidence that the novel coronavirus escaped from the WIV. Newsweek has contacted the State Department to enquire as to what evidence Pompeo is referring to and when it will be made public.

Pompeo—one of Trump's most vociferous allies and a standard-bearer for the president's combative "America First" foreign policy—is no stranger to rankling the CCP, whether over the South China Sea, Beijing's persecution of Muslim minority groups and pro-democracy activists, or Chinese 5G technology in Europe. The former Kansas congressman is now becoming the face of the Trump administration's coronavirus attacks on China.

Global Times said Pompeo "has brought shame to the evangelical Christians in the U.S., misusing their trust in the Republican party. He is no doubt a degenerate politician and despicable from the perspective of religion."

On Monday, Chinese state media channel CCTV described Pompeo as "insane" for claiming on Sunday to have seen "enormous evidence" of the WIV's involvement in the outbreak. The Chinese government has previously dismissed any suggestion that the virus escaped from the lab.

China has been accused of trying to conceal the coronavirus outbreak when it first appeared in Wuhan in December, silencing whistleblowers and failing to adequately warn the international community.

Beijing also allegedly underreported the number of infections and deaths in the country, while spreading disinformation maligning the response of other governments, particularly in the West.

Chinese officials and media have rejected any suggestion of wrongdoing, claiming that international attacks on Beijing are a political ploy to dodge blame for the crisis. China has been particularly scathing of the U.S. response, framing complaints from Washington as politicking ahead of November's presidential election.

Global Times said Tuesday that Pompeo is "playing an old trick by smearing China for hiding the truth and echoing anti-China sentiments in Western media in order to fool the American and Western public."

Mike Pompeo, China, coronavirus, allies, Wuhan, lab
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department on April 29, 2020, in Washington, D.C. ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images/Getty