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Cotton was reacting to a study by Hong Kong researchers which suggested that more than 230,000 people were infected in the initial wave of coronavirus in mainland China. That total, according to The Guardian, would be more than four times the officially reported total of just over 55,000 cases as of Feb. 20.
"They say it was four times more than the reported cases," Cotton told host Martha MacCallum. "Maybe add a zero."
"China has four times the amount of people of the United States," Cotton added. "There is no way that their numbers are accurate. In fact, their numbers have had a significant effect in spreading this virus all around the world. If China had been upfront all around, from the beginning, and been honest about the number of cases in ICU hospitalizations and deaths, the rest of the world might've had its guard up earlier."
Cotton blamed the Chinese Communist Party for "lying from the very beginning," which he said "helped make this pandemic even worse than it might've been."
If China had been transparent early on, "we might have cut cases anywhere from 65 percent to 90 percent all around the world," the senators added.
A recently published poll from the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Americans say they have developed an unfavorable view of China. The figures, which jumped dramatically since the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., comes as no surprise to Cotton, he said.
"China is viewed as a pariah state by the American people., [and] not just the American people but the peoples of our allies."
Cotton has repeatedly called for the U.S. to reclaim its supply chain from China, proposing legislation to secure U.S. manufacturing of essential goods.
"In Japan, Shinzo Abe proposed billions of dollars to help bring manufacturing from China back to Japan," he said. "We should pursue a similar set of policy objectives here in the U.S., bringing back our manufacturing base, especially pharmaceutical and radical manufacturing."