China has rejected the US Intelligence report claiming that Beijing hid the true number of its people who have been infected and killed by the coronavirus outbreak, and is accusing the United States of shifting the blame for its own handling of the pandemic.

On Thursday, the country's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China's response to the outbreak has been "open and transparent" ever since the virus was first identified in December in Wuhan.

China hits back at US

Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson
Twitter

"Some US officials just want to shift the blame," Hua said during a press briefing in Beijing. "Actually we don't want to fall into an argument with them, but faced with such repeated moral slander by them, I feel compelled to take some time and clarify the truth again."

Hua also questioned the US's, particularly the Donald Trump administration's response to the virus after imposing a travel ban on travellers from China on February 2. "Can anyone tell us what the US has done in the following two months?" she said.

In her briefing, Hua also took aim at US politicians who claimed Beijing concealed the extent of the outbreak. "We'd like to provide support and help to them as our capacity allows," Hua said. "However, these comments by those US politicians are just shameless and morally repulsive, and these slanders, smears and blame games cannot make up for the lost time, but will only cost more lost time and lives."

US Intelligence report

The blistering statement comes a day after Bloomberg, citing three US officials, reported that a classified US intelligence report concluded that China's official tally of COVID-19 infections and deaths is fake, as previously reported. The report was received by the White House last week, according to one of the officials.

Since China first disclosed a new form of pneumonia on December 31, the country has reported more than 82,000 infections and over 3,300 deaths, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University. The deadly virus has been contained in China, with many cities lifting its lockdown restrictions, including Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. Meanwhile, the US has reported more than 2,45,000 infections and close to 6,000 deaths.

Trump says China's numbers are 'on the light side'

Donald Trump
Instagram grab/ Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he had not yet received an intelligence report stating that Beijing was lying about its coronavirus numbers, but did mention that their statistics appear to be on the lower side. "Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I'm being nice when I say that," he said at a daily coronavirus briefing at the White House.

Vice President Mike Pence also said that the US would have been better off had China been "more forthcoming" about the coronavirus outbreak. "But what appears evident now is long before the world learned in December, China was dealing with this, maybe as much as a month earlier than that," he told CNN on Wednesday.