Secretary Michael R. Pompeo At a Press Availability
05/06/2020 01:24 PM EDT
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Press Briefing Room
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, everyone. It’s been 128 days since Chinese doctor Ai Fen – the director of the Wuhan Central Hospital’s emergency unit – shared information on the internet about a patient with a SARS-like virus. Her colleague, Dr. Li Wenliang, shared Dr. Ai’s report online with medical colleagues.
The next day, December 31st, regional health officials in Wuhan indicated they were treating dozens of patients with an unknown viral pneumonia. And within days, Chinese officials detained Dr. Li and seven others for “spreading false statements on the internet.”
China saw then that it had an emerging public health crisis on its hands. They knew. China could have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. China could have spared the world a descent into global economic malaise. They had a choice.
But instead, instead China covered up the outbreak in Wuhan. Its National Health Commission ordered virus samples destroyed on January 3rd. China “disappeared” brave Chinese citizens who raised alarms. It deployed its propaganda organs to denounce those who politely called for simple transparency.
And that brings us to today, 120 days on. China is still refusing to share the information we need to keep people safe, such as viral isolates, clinical specimens, and details about the many COVID-19 patients in December 2019, not to mention “patient zero.”
Our truth-telling and calls for transparency aren’t about politics. It’s not about bullying. It’s not about blame. It’s about the ongoing need to save American lives. This is an ongoing threat today. Ask medical professionals in New York City. I think they’ll agree with that.
We need countries to share reliable data in a timely way – now, and the next time that a calamity like this hits. We need reliable partners.
As a result of China’s choices, countries are starting to understand the risk of doing business with the Chinese Communist Party and taking action to protect their people. A few examples. In recent weeks, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, and France have demarched the Chinese Communist Party ambassadors for a whole host of lies and misdeeds.
Spain has returned defective test kits made in China. That country, the Czech Republic, other nations have received shoddy PPE, as well. The Australians and the Swedes have called for an independent review into the outbreak. And my friend Dominic Raab has said that the United Kingdom can’t go back to, quote, “business as usual,” end of quote, with Beijing. Even the EU’s foreign affairs chief admitted that Brussels has been, quote, “a little naive,” end of quote, about China.
I’m heartened by this newfound realism. The free nations of the world are starting to understand that China doesn’t share those democratic values that we hold dear, or their economic interests, and that this matters to the entire world.
There’s no true “win-win” with a communist regime, unless you get to the fair terms that President Trump has talked about and the reciprocity that President Trump did in the phase one trade deal. Now countries have a chance to further insist on what’s right for their people.
Today I want to call upon all nations, including those in Europe, to support Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly and in other relevant United Nations venues. I also call upon WHO Director-General Tedros to invite Taiwan to observe this month’s WHA, as he has the power to do, and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions.