White House trade adviser Peter Navarro accused China of deliberately letting the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, during a number of interviews over the weekend. Navarro first made his accusations in Fox Business Network’s WSJ at Large Friday, before reiterating them while talking to ABC News on Sunday.
“China hid the virus behind the shield of the World Health Organization, and that was a time, Gerry, when that virus could have been contained in Wuhan,” Navarro said to Fox Business Network’s Gerry Baker. “Instead, what China did was put hundreds of thousands of Wuhanians and Chinese on planes that were allowed to go to Milan and New York and elsewhere, but not to Beijing and Shanghai.”
When Baker asked if Navarro was accusing China of deliberately allowing international travel to let the virus spread, the latter stated that it was “a matter of fact. It should not be in dispute.”
China plotted to “seed” the virus
On Sunday, Navarro followed up his Fox interview by accusing China once again, this time on ABC News. Here, he stated that China plotted to seed the coronavirus globally by allowing sick travelers to fly overseas.
“Yes, I do blame the Chinese,” said Navarro. “The Chinese, behind the shield of the World Health Organization for two months, hid the virus from the world, and then sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York and around the world to seed that.”
“Yes, I do blame the Chinese,” White House adviser Peter Navarro says on economic challenges in U.S. due to COVID-19, claiming that China “behind the shield of the World Health Organization — for two months— hid the virus from the world.” https://t.co/vTqcX6SuVX pic.twitter.com/6wtvIDI84i
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 17, 2020
Evidence does exist that China did conceal information about the coronavirus from the WHO. It seems likely the communist Chinese government was fully aware its own people were spreading the pandemic through international travel.
Navarro’s claim echoed that made by President Donald Trump during a Fox News town hall event on May 3.
“You could fly out of Wuhan where the primary problem was … and you could go to different parts of the world, but you couldn’t go [from Wuhan] to Beijing and you couldn’t go to any place in China,” Trump stated. “So what’s that all about?”
Latest in a string of accusations against China
Navarro’s accusations are the latest that have been hurled by the administration as it seeks to hold China accountable for its actions during the pandemic.
Prior to this, Trump accused China of having artificially created the virus in a lab in Wuhan. Specifically, the president claimed to have seen evidence that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“We’re going to see where it comes from,” Trump said at a White House event on April 30. “We have people looking at it very, very strongly. Scientific people, intelligence people, and others. We’re going to put it all together. I think we will have a very good answer eventually. And China might even tell us.”
However, Trump declined to give his sources, saying that he wasn’t allowed to disclose them yet.
Earlier in April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed to how China has refused to share data on the virus. “The mere fact that we don’t know the answers that China hasn’t shared the answers I think is very, very telling,” Pompeo said. He also noted how the Wuhan Institute of Virology was just “a handful of miles” away from the wet market where the virus supposedly made first contact with humans.
Pompeo has since pressed China to let outside experts into the institute’s labs so as to determine where exactly the virus came from. However, reports have since come out saying that China has already destroyed any evidence linking the lab to the coronavirus.