China concealed early coronavirus outbreak, former MI6 spymaster says

Reuters

Posted at Apr 15 2020 05:39 PM

Cars drive by a billboard depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Belgrade, Serbia, April 1, 2020. The text on the billboard reads "Thanks, brother Xi." Djordje Kojadinovic, Reuters

LONDON - China concealed crucial information about the novel coronavirus outbreak from the rest of the world and so should answer for its deceit, the former head of Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service said on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) which he said had promoted China’s "disinformation" about the virus.

John Sawers, the chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, from 2009 to 2014, said it would be better to hold China responsible rather than the WHO.

"There is deep anger in America at what they see as having been inflicted on us all by China and China is evading a good deal of responsibility for the origin of the virus, for failing to deal with it initially," Sawers told the BBC.

"Intelligence is about acquiring information which has been concealed from you by other states and other actors, there was a brief period in December and January when the Chinese were indeed concealing this from the West." 

The virus, which emerged from a market selling wild animals as delicacies in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected some 1.97 million people, among whom 128,445 died.