Pompeo hits back after China claims US is lying about COVID-19: 'Classic communist disinformation'

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reacted to China’s foreign ministry claiming that America is "lying through their teeth" about the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “classic communist disinformation.”

Pompeo made the comment on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday referring to the statement from China foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“We advise American politicians to reflect on their own problems and try their best to control the [coronavirus] epidemic as soon as possible instead of continuing to play tricks to deflect blame,” Shuang said on Tuesday.

“They [Chinese officials] know that this happened in their country,” Pompeo said. “This is classic communist disinformation. This is what communists do.”

China’s foreign ministry also accused the United States of "lying through their teeth" and suggested the country mind its own business as the war of words between the world's two biggest economic powers escalated.

“This very much is our own business,” Pompeo said in response.

He added, “What the Chinese communist party did here in not preventing the spread of this around the world, they’re responsible for it. America needs to hold them accountable.”

Shuang’s comments came on the heels of President Trump suggesting in a press conference on Monday that the U.S. would be seeking "substantial" compensation for China's handling of the global pandemic.

"We are not happy with China," Trump said. "We are not happy with that whole situation because we believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly and it wouldn't have spread all over the world."

He added that the United States is considering several options to "hold them accountable."

On Wednesday, Pompeo noted that China kicked journalists out and suppressed information from doctors about the dangers of the virus.

“Those are the kind of things that communist institutions do,” he continued. “We all know them from the soviet days. We know the kinds of things that communist parties do to try and manage information inside of their own country and around the world and so we see these efforts.”

Multiple sources told Fox News earlier this month that there is increasing confidence that the COVID-19 outbreak likely originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory. An investigation into the matter is continuing.

On Wednesday Pompeo pointed out that “the United States for a long time and continuing today tries to help countries around the world who are conducting research on highly contagious pathogens.”

“We do this not only in China, but we try to bring our expertise from out national institutes of health, from our CDC to precisely prevent something like this,” he continued, referring to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed more than 218,000 lives globally, according to Johns Hopkins.

Pompeo said the reason the U.S. spend American taxpayer dollars on efforts to monitor countries conducting research on highly contagious pathogens “is to protect American people from labs that aren’t up to standard.”

The Wuhan Institute of Virology lab was reportedly the subject of multiple urgent warnings inside the U.S. State Department two years ago.

U.S. Embassy officials warned in January 2018 about inadequate safety at that lab and passed on information about scientists conducting risky research on coronavirus from bats, The Washington Post reported two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, Pompeo also brought up Australia, which has been on the receiving end of Beijing's ire as well.

China's ambassador to Australia warned on Monday that the government's call for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the pandemic could lead to a Chinese boycott of Australian products, The Australian Financial Review reported. Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne hit back, dismissing China's attempt at "economic coercion."

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“I have been heartened to see Australia, other countries joining us, demanding an investigation because while we know this started in Wuhan, China, we don’t yet know from where it started and in spite of our best efforts to get experts on the ground, they continue to try and hide,” Pompeo said, adding that what China is doing is “wrong.”

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty, Bret Baier and Gregg Re contributed to this report.