The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on April 22 called on the People’s Republic of China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets and all markets that sell illegal wildlife. The novel coronavirus is believed to have originated from a seafood/wet market in China's Wuhan city, however, there is no evidence to back the claim yet. Secretary Pompeo was addressing the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when he called on China to shut down all its wildlife markets.
"Given the strong link between illegal wildlife sold in wet markets and zoonotic diseases, the United States has called on the People’s Republic of China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets and all markets that sell illegal wildlife. I call on all ASEAN governments to do the same," Pompeo was quoted as saying in a press statement released by the US department of state.
Pompeo also called out China's new unilateral announcement of administrative districts over disputed islands and maritime areas in the South China Sea, its sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel earlier this month, and its “research stations” on Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef. Pompeo accused Beijing of taking advantage of the distraction caused by the coronavirus outbreak. "Even as we fight the outbreak, we must remember that the long-term threats to our shared security have not disappeared," Pompeo said.
Pompeo launched a scathing attack on the ruling Communist Party of China, accusing it of exploiting the world’s focus on the COVID-19 crisis by continuing its provocative behaviour in the South China Sea. Pompeo also discussed a scientific report showing that Beijing’s upstream dam operations have unilaterally altered flows of the Mekong river, depriving Mekong countries of water for years. Pompeo said that the US strongly opposes China’s bullying and hoped other nations will hold them to account too.
(Image Credit: AP)