NATIONAL Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has compared China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic to the Soviet Union’s response to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster decades ago.
“We’ll see an HBO special about it 10 or 15 years from now. And so we’re in a different place with China as we speak today,” O’Brien said.
The former hostage negotiator was responding to a question on the show Meet the Press about whether the Trump administration was tough on China while they tried to work out a trade deal.
O’Brien said: “We want good relations with China and with the Chinese people, but unfortunately we’re seeing just action after action by the Chinese Communist Party that makes it difficult.”
“With respect to the trade deal, we’ll see if they live up to it,” he added. “But we’re dealing in a new world now with corona.”
“They unleashed a virus on the world that’s destroyed trillions of dollars in American economic wealth that we’re having to spend to keep our economy alive, to keep Americans afloat during this virus.”
President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized China for their response to the pandemic, and last month publicly speculated China could have unleashed the coronavirus on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake.”
“It’s a terrible thing that happened,” Trump said. “Whether they made a mistake or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose.”
Scientists have suggested the most likely place the virus originated was natural, and that it spread from an infected animal to a human.
But Trump claims to have seen evidence to support the theory that it was created in an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s outbreak.
On April 26, 1986, the number four reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and caused a massive fire — the worst nuclear accident in the world.
The state-controlled Soviet Union news media waited nearly three days to acknowledge anything had gone wrong, and even then downplayed the severity of what happened.
Around 600,000 people who were sent in to clean up the fire and contamination were exposed to elevated radiation levels, and around 350,000 people were evacuated from the area in the early days after the accident.
Thirty nuclear plant workers died in the explosion or from radiation sickness within months, and at least 9,000 people died from the explosion altogether, but the number is in dispute, with some saying at least 90,000 could have died from it.
O’Brien on Sunday said Trump’s January 30 order placing travel restrictions on China was “profile in courage” that “saved countless lives.”
He added that China has been blocks doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from going to China to gather information on the virus.
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“Unfortunately, China did none of that. And so, look, we’re in a very different place with China right now, and the president’s made that clear.”
He continued: “But, you know, the Chinese didn’t do what they said.”
“We’ve also learned that at the time, that they cracked down internally and refused to allow people from Hubei and Wuhan to travel throughout China, they allowed those folks to travel to Europe.”
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