Republican Sen. Ted Cruz lashed out at leaders in China who he said had attempted to hold the United States "captive" by threatening to cut off much-needed medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
During an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday morning, Cruz said the measures taken by the Chinese government showed not only a lack of transparency regarding the spread of the disease but also an intent to strain the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, which relies on manufacturing from the Asian superpower.
"The Chinese government has explicitly threatened ... cutting off life-saving medicines to America as a tool of economic warfare," Cruz said.
The U.S. intelligence community believes the Chinese Communist Party is covering up the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak inside the country, where the deadly COVID-19 pandemic originated. A classified report said Beijing had underreported total cases and deaths associated with the disease, according to three U.S. officials cited by Bloomberg. One of those unnamed officials said the White House received the report last week.
Cruz said Beijing allowed the disease to spread early on by failing to alert global officials such as the World Health Organization. The Texan also pointed out that the Chinese government punished those who came forward to warn others of the dangers, such as Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, who died from the illness after being reprimanded for alerting colleagues about a mystery disease infecting his patients.
"This pandemic began in China, began in Wuhan, China, and the decisions of the Chinese government played a critical part ... in causing the pandemic to be as bad as it is," Cruz said. "They did everything they could to hide the public health crisis that was spreading right in front of them."
And from the Washington Free Beacon:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), who sits on the committee that deals with classified intelligence, said the Chinese Communist Party continues to lie about the actual death toll from coronavirus in its own country. While the senator would not discuss specific intelligence, citing classification reasons, he said information he has viewed shows the United States does not surpass China in terms of deaths.
"The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false," Sasse said on Wednesday in a statement sent to the Washington Free Beacon. "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. Beijing's garbage propaganda shouldn't be taken seriously by the World Health Organization, by independent journalists, or by the American epidemiologists who are going to beat this terrible virus."
China has reported some 81,500 cases and 3,300 deaths, according to publicly available data. The U.S. infection number stands at 191,000 with more than 4,000 deaths, making it the worldwide leader if the public numbers are to be trusted.
Lawmakers and senior U.S. officials have charged China with lying since the coronavirus first exploded. The United States estimates that the number of those killed in China, Iran, and other repressive regimes far exceeds the numbers officially reported.