White House economic adviser Peter Navarro in Beijing for trade talks in May 2018. (Photo by Nicolas Asfour/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday accused China’s government of having “spawned” the coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan late last year, saying that given its track record, in his view Beijing was “guilty until proven innocent.”
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Navarro initially charged that China “created that virus.” When host Jake Tapper asked if he was alleging that the pathogen was “purposefully created,” Navarro said that was “an open question.”
He suggested “spawned” may be a better word to use.
The exchange began when Navarro, asked about the possibility of a “second wave” of COVID-19 infections in the fall, said that the United States was “a lot more prepared under this president than we were when China foisted this on us to begin with.”
“And let’s not forget that, Jake: China created this pandemic,” he continued. “They hid the virus. They created that virus. And they sent over hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens here to spread that around, and around the world.”
“Whether they did that on purpose, that’s an open question,” he added.
After discussing jobs and the economy for a few minutes, Tapper circled back.
“I just want to ask about something you said. Did you say China created this virus? Did I hear you wrong?”
“You did not hear me wrong,” Navarro replied. “That virus was a product of the Chinese Communist Party. And until we get some information about what happened in those labs, or what happened in that wet market, we know that that virus was spawned in China. That is what I mean, spawned in China.”
Asked whether he thought the virus was “purposefully created,” Navarro repeated, “that’s an open question.”
Navarro then recalled that in a 2006 book, The Coming China Wars, he had “predicted that China would create a viral pandemic that could possibly kill millions.”
“Why did I do that at the time? Because the whole structure of that authoritarian, repressive, non-transparent society is geared towards giving us exactly what they’ve given us, which is a pandemic.”
When Tapper asked whether he had evidence to back up his suggestion that China deliberately created the virus, Navarro said that was a question Tapper should be asking the Chinese Communist Party, every day.
“If President Xi [Jinping] gave me an interview, I would love to,” he replied, to which Navarro persisted, “that doesn’t prevent you from asking the question every day.”
Tapper said he wasn’t defending China on the issue, adding that CNN had produced “a whole special on the pandemic.”
‘We have been very critical of the Chinese government for how it handled it,” he said. “Now, we have never said that they created this purposefully.”
“Guilty until proven innocent, in my judgment,” Navarro said. “They are guilty until proven innocent, because of what we know, Jake: They spawned the virus in China. They did it for two months, and they killed over 100,000 Americans.”
A paramilitary police officer in Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate in late January. (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)
The Trump administration and others have accused China of trying to cover up the outbreak early on, facilitating its spread from Wuhan and then beyond China’s borders, disseminating disinformation, limiting cooperation with outside experts, and denying full access to investigators.
China consistently and hotly denies the allegations, characterizing its handling of the crisis as exemplary.
In the 2006 book he cited on Sunday, Navarro wrote, “China has become the world’s prime breeding ground for new and exotic strains of influenza and other viruses, including both the deadly SARS virus and avian flu. The primary reason, as the preceding excerpt indicates, is that so many different farm animals live in such close proximity to humans and other species. The resultant ‘cross pollution’ creates a ‘soup of chemicals and viruses’ that now threatens the world with the possibility of a pandemic in which tens of millions of people may die.”
The “preceding excerpt” he referred to in that passage was a 2003 Sydney Morning Herald article about the city in China’s Guangdong province where the first case of the SARS coronavirus is believed to have emerged the previous November.
The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus killed at least 770 people in 30 countries in 2002-3.
As of early Monday, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been blamed for more than 468,300 deaths, in 186 countries and territories, including almost 120,000 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University and World Health Organization data.