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New York, 17 March 2020, TON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a phone call he initiated with top Chinese official Yang Jiechi, voiced anger that Beijing has used official channels "to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States", the State Department said. Pompeo "stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumours, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat", the department added.
The State Department on Friday summoned the Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai, to denounce Beijing's promotion of a conspiracy theory that had gained wide attention on social media. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian suggested on Twitter last week that "patient zero" in the global pandemic may have come from the United States.
"It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation," tweeted Zhao, who is known for his provocative statements on social media.
Pompeo himself has sought to link China to the global pandemic, repeatedly referring to the "Wuhan virus" despite advice from health professionals that such geographic labels can be stigmatising.
ang issued a "stern warning to the United States that any scheme to smear China will be doomed to fail", Xinhua said in its summary of the call with Pompeo.
The key Chinese foreign policy leader "noted that some US politicians have frequently slandered China and its anti-epidemic efforts and stigmatised the country, which has enraged the Chinese people", Xinhua said.
Yang called on the US side to "correct its wrongful behaviour".
Trump is under fire over his handling of the pandemic, and his backers have sought to cast the coronavirus as a disease brought by foreigners.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a Trump ally, has spoken of the "Chinese coronavirus" and in a recent statement vowed, "we will hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world".
While COVID-19 has largely come under control in China, it has killed more than 7,000 people around the world and severely disrupted daily life in Western countries.
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