Blinken previously accused China of not meeting international obligations to provide information about the origins of the virus that has resulted in the deaths of millions of people worldwide, including nearly 550,000 in the U.S.
“There’s no doubt that especially when Covid-19 first hit, but even today, China is falling far short of the mark when it comes to providing the information necessary to the international community, making sure that experts have access to China,” Blinken said during an interview with NBC in February. “All of that lack of transparency, that lack of being forthcoming, is a profound problem.”
Blinken’s comments are a notable break from his predecessor, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who routinely disparaged China over the coronavirus, saying he believed the world would make the country “pay a price” for the pandemic and suggesting that there was evidence that the virus emerged from a Chinese lab.
Pompeo’s theory was publicly supported by Robert Redfield, former President Donald Trump’s director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview on Friday that contradicted public health experts and U.S. intelligence agencies assessment on the origins of the virus.
“It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker,” Redfield said. “That’s my own view. It’s only an opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”
Blinken, who spoke from Brussels after meeting with NATO and European Union officials, emphasized the importance of the U.S. working with allies on issues posed by China.
“There are clearly and increasingly adversarial aspects of the relationship. There are certainly competitive ones. There are also still some cooperative ones,” Blinken said about American relations with China. “But the common denominator is the need to approach China from a position of strength, whether it’s adversarial, whether it’s competitive, whether it’s cooperative.”