America’s most senior diplomat says the COVID-19 outbreak has revealed China’s authoritarian nature, including its desire to exert hegemonic influence over countries via projects like the Belt and Road Initiative.
Speaking exclusively with Sky News host Rowan Dean, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said western nations should think carefully about doing business with China, considering Beijing’s China’s reflex to “cover up and hide” when faced with a crisis.
Secretary Pompeo’s comments come as Victoria plans to push ahead with its plan to sign up to China’s US$1.4 trillion infrastructure program, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The plan is designed to link China with Asia, Europe and Africa via a massive infrastructure investment that will see the widespread construction of railways, motorways and ports.
Secretary Pompeo warned any government that signs up to China’s BRI’s will have to scrutinise the deal closely.
“Every citizen of Australia that should know that everyone of those Belt and Road projects need to be looked at incredibly closely,” he said.
“It is the case, some of them may just be straight up commercial transactions, if so, fine, but nearly each one of them has some cost to it.
“There is often money loaned at concessional rates, or conditions placed on the debt documents, or concessions that have to be made to the Chinese communist party in order to get those Belt and Road Initiatives projects built.”
“Those present real risk, real risk to the people in that region, real risk to country and frankly they build up the capacity of the Chinese communist party to do harm elsewhere.”
As the novel coronavirus wreaks worldwide political and economic havoc, Sectary Pompeo said there is growing evidence China and the World Health Organisation “covered up” the full extent of the danger posed by the pathogen when it was in its nascent stage.
He said China’s tendency to blame everyone else for the pandemic, including Australia, has made it even more necessary for there to be a full and rigorous investigation into the origins of COVID-19, which has infected over 5.2 million and killed at least 340,000 people.
“This virus originated in Wuhan China and the Chinese Communist Party has rigorously prevented the entire world of the precise origins,” he said.
“How did this begin? How did this have the first human-to-human transmission. All of these things the world deserves to know.”