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UK questions China over coronavirus outbreak

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Britain said on Monday that China has questions to answer over the
the information shared about the novel coronavirus outbreak, but
refused to comment on reports that a U.S.-led intelligence consortium had an accused Beijing of a cover-up.

The United States has scaled up its rhetoric over Chinese culpability
for the novel coronavirus in recent days, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying on Sunday there was evidence the disease
emerged from a Chinese lab.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the virus was not man-made or genetically modified. Washington has so far presented no evidence publicly that the virus came from a lab, which Beijing strongly denies.

The Australian Telegraph reported the U.S.-led Five Eyes intelligence the consortium had in a 15-page research dossier said that China had deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak in an “assault on international transparency” that cost tens of thousands of lives.

The Five Eyes groups U.S., British, Canadian, Australian and New
Zealand intelligence services.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Every day I get intelligence bulletins from our agencies around the world. I don’t comment on individual bulletins, what I have and haven’t seen. That would be wrong.”

Asked if China had questions to answer over how quickly it made
the world aware of the extent of the crisis, Defence Secretary Ben
Wallace said: “I think it does.”

“China needs to be open and transparent about what it leant, it’s
short comings but also it’s successes,” Wallace said, adding that
the time for a post mortem was after the outbreak.

Reuters has not seen the Five Eyes dossier and was unable to immediately verify the Australian Telegraph report. One Western
intelligence source said it was now widely accepted that China had not been fully transparent.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was confident
the coronavirus originated in a Chinese virology lab. He told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday he was looking at options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the virus.

Pompeo said on Sunday there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory, although he also said he did not dispute U.S. intelligence
agencies’ conclusion that it was not man-made.

The Australian Telegraph said the Five Eyes document accused
China of endangering other countries by covering up news of the
virus, silencing or “disappearing” doctors who spoke out, destroying evidence in laboratories and refusing to provide live samples to
international scientists working on a vaccine.

“Virus samples ordered destroyed at genomics labs, wildlife market
stalls bleached, the genome sequence not shared publicly, the
Shanghai lab closure for ‘rectification’,” the Telegraph quoted the
document as saying.

China has repeatedly denied that it covered up any details about the
novel coronavirus outbreak, and says Washington is pointing the finger because of its own flawed response. The United States has the most cases and the most fatalities in the world.

“As we repeatedly point out, China has been fighting COVID-19 in
an open, transparent and responsible manner,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular daily briefing on April 24.

China’s ambassador to London last month said the United States should not seek to bully the People’s Republic in a manner reminiscent of the 19th century European colonial war.

Reported by: Vincent Paul

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