Pompeo questions China's coronavirus information: 'We need to understand what has taken place'

The secretary of state added that the Trump administration is "still trying" to get China to allow experts into lab where it is believed virus originated

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the Trump administration is demanding answers from China after the nation raised the number of coronavirus deaths in Wuhan by nearly 50 percent earlier in the day.

Officials changed the city's 1,290-person COVID-19 death count to 3,869 on Friday, highlighting questions surrounding the validity of China's reporting on virus cases in the country. Chinese state media said “belated, missed and mistaken reporting occurred" because medical facilities in the country were overwhelmed at the peak of the outbreak, hence the sudden spike.

"What this administration has consistently done, with respect to the Chinese Communist Party, is demand they behave in a way that's consistent with international norms," Pompeo told "Mornings with Maria."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The change in Wuhan's death count also came after FOX News reported that the virus outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory not as a bioweapon but as a way for China to prove its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the U.S., according to multiple sources who were briefed on China's actions.

The virus outbreak is an example of how the country is not being consistent with international norms by withholding information and data related to COVID-19 from the rest of the world before it became a pandemic, Pompeo said.


"This authoritarian regime had information, had data. It's very clear now that the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization didn't put that information out into the international space as they're required to do in a timely fashion. And the result of that is that we now have this global pandemic. We're still suffering that today," he said.

Pompeo added that the administration is "still trying" to get China to allow experts into the lab where it is believed the virus originated.

A patient is transferred from Elmhurst Hospital Center to a waiting ambulance during the current coronavirus outbreak, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

"This is about science and epidemiology," he said. "We need to understand what has taken place so that we can reduce risk to Americans in the days and weeks and months ahead and get the global economy back on track. It's very important."

The secretary of state also related China's failure to be transparent to Chinese telecom giant Huawei and the security concerns the U.S. has with the company. The administration put Huawei on a blacklist called the Entity List, which prohibits American companies from doing business with the Chinese firm.


"I am very confident that at this moment, this moment where the Chinese Communist Party failed to be transparent and open and handled data in an appropriate way will cause many, many countries to rethink what they were doing with respect to their telecom architecture," Pompeo said.

In this Feb. 21, 2020 photo, a doctor in a protective suit checks with patients at a temporary hospital at Tazihu gymnasium in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (Chinatopix via AP)

The U.K. announced in January that it would allow Huawei to build part of its 5G mobile network against U.S. warnings that the tech giant poses a security risk.


"I think this has been a real moment for business leaders all across America to see the political risk associated with the operations inside of China," Pompeo said.

He also said the U.S. supply chain shouldn't be dependent on any other country.

"This government has a responsibility ... to make sure the supply chains for the products that matter for American national security and keeping people safe are no longer dependent on any single country," he explained.

He added that he hopes "every business leader around the world will take a look at what's transpired over these past weeks and make good decisions for their compan[ies] about whether they're prepared to deal with the political risk of continuing to operate from China."


Fox News' Bret Baier and Gregg Re contributed to this report.