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China should be accountable for coronavirus: Mnuchin

Paul Best

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that there is a push within the Trump administration to hold the Chinese government accountable for its lack of transparency surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing damage it wrought on America.

FOX Business Network's Lou Dobbs asked the former Goldman Sachs executive if there is energy within the administration to go after Chinese President Xi Jinping and his government over its handling of the pandemic.

“I think there is energy. I would start with Secretary [Mike] Pompeo when he had his most recent meeting, was very clear in, ‘We need answers,’” Mnuchin answered, referring to the US secretary of state. “It’s not acceptable that China hasn’t opened up, hasn’t been forthright with what’s gone on with this disease. And there’s no question, the disease started there. How did it spread through the rest of the world, and it didn’t spread through China? That’s what we want to know.”

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China has received criticism from across the political spectrum for downplaying the severity of the crisis in its early stages and muzzling whistleblowers who tried to tell the truth about it.

The Associated Press reported in April that Chinese officials waited six key days to warn the public about what they determined was a pandemic from a new coronavirus in January. Even worse, during those six key days, the city of Wuhan hosted a banquet for tens of thousands of people, and millions more traveled throughout the country for Lunar New Year celebrations.

China delayed releasing the genome of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization and others for more than a week after the nation had mapped it out in January, which would have been critical to slowing the spread in the early stages.

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The Chinese government also cracked down on doctors who tried to blow the whistle on the incoming pandemic. Wuhan police admonished eight doctors for trying to warn people on social media about the seriousness of the new coronavirus in late December. Authorities forced one of those doctors, Dr. Li Wenliang, to sign a letter admitting to spreading “untrue speech” about the disease.

President Trump initially praised China for its response, but he has since transitioned into attacking the country and accusing the World Health Organization of being complicit in a cover-up.

The president tweeted last week that a “complete decoupling from China” is on the table.

Aside from coronavirus, there are also rising tensions between the U.S. and China about trade, mainland China’s treatment of Hong Kong and technologies of the future.

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