Mike Pompeo Says China, Iran and Russia Coronavirus 'Disinformation Campaigns' Seek to 'Place Confusion in the World'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated his accusation that China, Iran, and Russia have engaged in "disinformation campaigns" about the coronavirus pandemic, saying they were seeking to sow "confusion" about its origins.

Pompeo's latest comments come after President Donald Trump appeared to downplay disinformation by foreign states, saying "every country does it" during an interview with Fox & Friends on Monday.

Reports of the new strain of coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease first emerged from China in Wuhan, a large city in its central Hubei province. Research is continuing into the specific origin of the virus, which is believed to have come from bats.

But propaganda from states such as China, Iran, and Russia has peddled conspiracy theories about the pandemic, such as COVID-19 being created and spread around the world by the American military.

China and Iran face accusations of attempting to cover up the scale of the coronavirus epidemics in their countries, deflecting attention from their actions through disinformation and hiding the true number of cases and deaths in their official figures. Both deny this.

The EU has been monitoring alleged Russian efforts to spread disinformation about the coronavirus to undermine public confidence in Western health systems.

"We have seen it not only from Iran and Russia but from China and others as well trying to tell a narrative," Pompeo told journalists at a roundtable by telephone, according to a transcript from the State Department released on Wednesday.

"And the narratives are different, but each of them has the same component, which is to avoid responsibility and try and place confusion in the world, confusion about where the virus began but also confusion about how countries are responding to it and which countries are actually providing assistance throughout the world.

"And we think it's important that those narratives are corrected. President Trump has clearly corrected the record with respect to some of this disinformation, and we're trying to do that as well. It's important."

During his interview on Fox & Friends this week, Trump was asked about recent reports in The Washington Post of disinformation efforts by China, Iran, and Russia to blame the U.S. for causing the virus and attack its response.

Trump responded by criticizing The Washington Post and suggesting its reporting could not be trusted, and also that, regarding disinformation, "every country does it."

"They do it, and we do it, and we call them different things. I make statements that are very strong against China, including the Chinese virus, which has been going on for a long time, I wouldn't say they are thrilled with that statement," Trump said.

"They said our soldiers did it. I said you mean the Chinese virus? All of a sudden they call, they say let's talk nicely. Yeah, sure. Every country does it, but they build it up into stuff. And we handle that. And they probably handle it."

Mike Pompeo coronavirus disinformation China Russia Iran
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
Mike Pompeo Says China, Iran and Russia Coronavirus 'Disinformation Campaigns' Seek to 'Place Confusion in the World' | U.S.