US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday demanded that China share more data on the novel coronavirus as Beijing angrily accused him of lying and said Washington was trying to shift blame.
It was the latest clash in an escalating feud between the two powers over the global COVID-19 pandemic, which was first detected in the Chinese metropolis Wuhan but has now infected more than 250,000 people worldwide and hobbled life in the West.
Mr. Pompeo, who, like the US President, Mr. Donald Trump, has enraged Beijing by speaking of the 'Chinese virus', said Beijing had a 'special obligation' to scientists due to its early knowledge of the illness.
'This is not about retribution,' Mr. Pompeo told reporters at the White House.
“We need to make sure that even today, the data sets that are available to every country, including data sets that are made available to the Chinese Communist Party, are made available to the whole world. It's an imperative to keep people safe.”
In an interview earlier, Pompeo said China 'wasted valuable days' after identifying the novel coronavirus by letting 'hundreds of thousands' leave Wuhan to places including Italy -- which has surpassed China as the country with the highest death toll.
“The Chinese Communist Party didn't get it right and put countless lives at risk as a result of that,” Pompeo said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying voiced anger over Pompeo's claim of hundreds of thousands leaving Wuhan, writing in English: “Stop lying through your teeth!”