The outgoing US ambassador to China issued an extraordinary broadside against Beijing for bungling the origins of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday and roasted their “unwillingness to admit wrongdoing.”
Ambassador Terry Branstad agreed with President Trump that China is to blame for the global outbreak, telling CNN that the “Chinese system was such that they covered it up and even penalized the doctors who pointed it out at the beginning.”
“So the result was what could have been contained in Wuhan ended up becoming a worldwide pandemic,” he went on.
Branstad echoed criticism leveled at the Chinese Communist Party by Trump and the international community over their handling of the earliest COVID-19 cases in Wuhan in December, which they tried to cover up by making journalists and doctors disappear and destroying early lab samples.
The ambassador, a longtime friend of Chinese President Xi Jinping, accused the Communist nation of abusing Trump’s relationship with Xi to trick US officials into thinking the disease was under control.
“I think President Trump believed the Chinese when they said what they said about the virus and then he and the rest of the world found out what they said was not true and misinformation and cover-ups occurred,” Branstad told the network.
“I think it’s really the Communist system of China and their unwillingness to admit wrongdoing that caused this whole thing to happen, and that’s the tragedy of it,” he added.
So far, the disease has killed 198,000 Americans and infected another 6.7 million in the US.
Trump withdrew the US from the World Health Organization in July, blasting the agency for failing to take stronger action after it discovered the outbreak.
China has repeatedly denied botching its handling of the early stages of the pandemic.
Branstad, a former longtime governor of Iowa, recently resigned from the post he has held since 2017 and is returning to the United States to help Trump with his re-election effort.
The 73-year-old told Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV that he will work on behalf of the president, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and others, but not in an official role.
“My son is very involved in (Trump’s) campaign, and I will be a volunteer to help him, to help Joni Ernst and other friends for the election in Iowa. But I will strictly be a volunteer,” Branstad said.
His departure comes as relations between Washington and Beijing continue to hit new lows.
China’s Xi Jinping and Terry Branstad
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