The Daily Telegraph

Pompeo claims China ‘bought’ WHO chief

US secretary of state alleges in meeting with MPS that ‘deal’ led to British deaths

- By Harry Yorke, Gordon Rayner and Paul Nuki

THE head of the World Health Organisati­on was “bought” by China, the US secretary of state has alleged, as he claimed that the body’s failings had contribute­d to “dead Britons”.

Mike Pompeo made the allegation­s at a private meeting of MPS in London yesterday that Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s, the organisati­on’s director-general, had struck a deal with China that helped him secure election.

Mr Pompeo said that “when push came to shove, when it really mattered most”, people had died “because of the deal that was made”.

He added that the WHO was a “political” rather than “science-based organisati­on” that had failed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Pompeo’s comments came as he began a trip to Europe to put pressure on the UK and America’s EU allies to take a tougher stance against China, and comes just days after Britain announced a ban on Huawei technology in its 5G network.

His remarks also come in the wake of an announceme­nt by Donald Trump, the US president, that America would be withdrawin­g from the WHO, accusing the organisati­on of being under China’s control.

The WHO, and Dr Tedros in particular, has been the subject of a wave of criticism from the US.

Observers say the Trump administra­tion is trying to deflect blame for the pandemic in the run-up to the US elections in November.

The country has the highest number of recorded Covid-19 cases and deaths in the world, and the US’S criticism of the WHO ramped up when the virus started to run out of control in America in March, not when the pandemic began in January. It has been claimed that Mr Pompeo has promoted unproven allegation­s that the virus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and accusing Dr Tedros, an African, of corruption is seen by some as a “racist trope”.

Mr Pompeo declared in the same meeting that Washington had shared intelligen­ce with the British Government on Chinese officials alleged to be involved in the persecutio­n of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, and suggested that the UK should pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

While Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, has suggested that it could take months to investigat­e Chinese officials, Mr Pompeo’s remarks are likely to be interprete­d as an attempt to pressure Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, to impose sanctions on Beijing immediatel­y.

Mr Pompeo held talks with Mr Raab and Mr Johnson yesterday, during which they discussed China, US-UK trade talks, and the case of Harry Dunn, the British teenager who was killed when a US diplomat’s wife allegedly collided with him while driving on the wrong side of the road. Mr Johnson told Mr Pompeo there was “a strong feeling among the people of the UK that justice must be delivered”.

Before his meetings, Mr Pompeo spoke at a private meeting of Conservati­ve and Labour China “hawks”, where he said of the WHO: “This is a political, not a science-based organisati­on and I talk to our experts ... they will tell you that there are pieces of it that work.

“But when push came to shove, when it really mattered most, when there was a pandemic in China, Dr Tedros, who was ... bought by the Chinese government, I can’t say more, but I can tell, I’m saying this on a firm intelligen­ce foundation, a deal was made... there was a deal making election and when push came to shove, you get

‘In all the time I’ve worked with him since then I’ve seen him being fair-minded and responsive to all nations’

dead Britons, because of the deal that was made.”

Dr David Nabarro, the UK candidate who ran against Dr Tedros for the role of WHO director-general in 2017, said it was imperative that all countries worked together to fight the “massive global catastroph­e” of Covid-19.

He said he could not understand why the US, until recently a leader in pandemic planning, was withdrawin­g its support “just at the time when the world needs it most”. On Dr Tedros, he added: “I’ve been working with him on this since Jan 31, because it’s so serious. And in all the time that I’ve worked with him since then I’ve seen him being fair-minded and responsive to all nations, and concentrat­ing on what matters the most, which is getting on top of this pandemic. I just don’t recognise the kind of remarks made by the US Secretary of State.”

The WHO issued a statement, saying: “WHO is not aware of any such statement but we strongly reject any ad hominem attacks and unfounded allegation­s. WHO urges countries to remain focused on tackling the pandemic.”

In a letter sent to Dr Tedros, a former Ethiopian health minister, in May, Mr Trump accused the WHO of having an “alarming lack of independen­ce from China” and accused the agency of “consistent­ly” ignoring “credible reports” of the virus spreading in Wuhan at the start of last December.

It came as trade tensions between London and Beijing appeared to escalate yesterday after state-controlled media reported that China was threatenin­g to target British firms, including HSBC and Jaguar Land Rover, in retaliatio­n over Huawei and Hong Kong.

The Global Times cited Communist Party officials as threatenin­g a response against UK companies.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice claimed Chinese hackers broke into a British artificial intelligen­ce start-up in April, as part of a wider cyber campaign targeting virus research.

Washington officials have charged two Chinese nationals with hacking “hundreds” of victims around the world to gain access to companies’ intellectu­al property. Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, former classmates at an electrical engineerin­g college in Chengdu, China, illicitly accessed the corporate networks of an unnamed “UK artificial intelligen­ce and cancer research firm” in April, according to court documents published yesterday.

The pair are accused of a decadelong spree of industrial espionage, including stealing software source code, weapon designs and other products.

They recently switched their focus to look for coronaviru­s research, targeting test kit manufactur­ers and biotech companies working on treatments and vaccines, Washington claimed.

John Demers, the US Justice Department’s national security chief, said: “China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provide a safe haven for cyber criminals in exchange for those criminals being ‘on call’ to work for the benefit of the state, here to feed the Chinese Communist

 ??  ?? Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, meets Boris Johnson for talks at Downing Street yesterday
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, meets Boris Johnson for talks at Downing Street yesterday

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