Trump casts doubt on Chinese coronavirus figures as US numbers jump, Latest World News - The New Paper

Trump casts doubt on Chinese coronavirus figures as US numbers jump

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US President, lawmakers accuse Beijing of under-reporting scale of coronavirus outbreak

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump cast doubt on the accuracy of official Chinese figures on its coronavirus outbreak after American lawmakers, citing an intelligence report, accused Beijing of a cover-up.

"How do we know" if they are accurate, Mr Trump asked at a press conference.

"Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side."

Mr Trump insisted that "the relationship with China's a good one" and that he remained close to President Xi Jinping.

However, controversy around Beijing's transparency has strained ties, adding to bad feelings triggered by a conspiracy theory in China that the US military was to blame for the virus.

Republicans in Congress, pointing to a report by Bloomberg citing US intelligence, expressed outrage that Beijing apparently misled the international community on China's infections and deaths that began in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan.

China's reporting has been intentionally incomplete, with some intelligence officials describing Beijing's numbers as fake, reported Bloomberg, which highlighted the classified intelligence document sent to the White House last week.

China has publicly reported 82,394 confirmed cases and 3,316 deaths as of yesterday, according to a rolling tracker by Johns Hopkins University. China's health authorities reported six new coronavirus deaths as of the end of Wednesday, the same number as on Tuesday. It reported 35 new coronavirus cases on April 1.

The US has the world's largest number of infections with 214,000 confirmed cases and 4,800 deaths. It recorded 884 deaths over the past 24 hours, Johns Hopkins University said on Wednesday - a new one-day record for the country.

Asked about the report at a press briefing yesterday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not directly address it or Mr Trump's comments, but said that "to slander, to discredit, to blame others or to shift responsibility cannot make up the time that has been lost".

"To carry on lying will only waste more time and cause more loss of life," she said.

She sharply criticised US officials who cast doubt on China's disclosures.

"These comments by those US politicians are just shameless and morally repulsive," she said.

"They should abandon such politicising of public health issues. This is just immoral and inhuman - and will be denounced by people all around the world," she said.


Republican Senator Ben Sasse attacked Beijing's numbers as "garbage propaganda".

"The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false," Mr Sasse said in a statement.

"Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime."

In a statement responding to the report, Mr Michael McCaul, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said China is "not a trustworthy partner" in the fight against Covid-19.

"They lied to the world about the human-to-human transmission of the virus, silenced doctors and journalists who tried to report the truth, and are now apparently hiding the accurate number of people impacted by this disease," he said. - AFP, REUTERS