The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) claims that China pressured the World Health Organization (WHO)to delay public health warnings about coronavirus in the early stages of the outbreak, according to a new report.

The CIA believes China tried to prevent the WHO from sounding the alarm on the coronavirus outbreak in January, when Beijing was sourcing and stockpiling medical equipment and protective gear from the United States and the rest of the world.

China threatened to stop cooperation with WHO

The agency's report, the contents of which have been shared with Newsweek by two US intelligence officials, states China threatened to stop cooperating with WHO's coronavirus investigation if the organization declared a global health emergency.

This follows a Department of Homeland Security report from earlier this month that claimed China "intentionally concealed the severity" of the novel coronavirus, while ramping up imports of PPE, including face masks and surgical gowns and decreasing exports of the medical supplies

Although WHO confirmed human-to-human transmission of the disease on Jan. 21, the organization did not declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern until Jan. 30. At the time of the announcement, the organization was quick to insist that China was not to blame for the virus, and praised the country's handling of the crisis.

US President Donald Trump has referred to the WHO as being "China-centric" and a "pipe organ" for Beijing and has even suspended funding to the organization over its mismanagement and cover-up of the crisis.

German intelligence claims China told WHO to withhold information

Xi Jinping with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Twitter/Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The CIA report titled, 'U.N.-China: WHO Mindful But Not Beholden to China,' is the second Western intelligence report to suggest that China arm-twisted the WHO into downplaying the risks of the outbreak and withholding information from the rest of the world.

Last week, a German intelligence report cited by Der Spiegel claimed that Chinese leader Xi Jinping personally pressured WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in January. The report claimed that on January 21, Jinping asked the WHO chief to withhold information about the human-to-human transmission of the virus and delay global health warnings.

Shortly after the bombshell claims emerged, the WHO released a statement calling them "unfounded and untrue."

The intelligence reports come in the wake of widespread criticism aimed at China over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.The mainland has been accused of silencing doctors that tried to raise an alarm over the outbreak and delaying the official announcement of the outbreak by days as people fled the Chinese city, spreading the deadly virus throughout the world.