Donald Trump told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “shut the hell up” about China and COVID in order not to anger Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pompeo reportedly recounts in an upcoming book about his time in the Trump administration.
It’s a startling revelation about Trump, who typically appears to take every opportunity to criticize China.
But the then-president wasn’t happy after Pompeo told leaders of the Group of Seven summit in March 2020 that China was to blame for COVID-19 and that the disease should be called the “Wuhan virus,” Pompeo reportedly writes in his memoir, “Never Give an Inch,” due out next week. He believed China “repeatedly delayed” sharing data and spread disinformation about the disease, according to excerpts of the book obtained by Semafor.
Trump was apparently worried because Xi warned him on a phone call the following day that Pompeo’s attack was jeopardizing the “phase one” trade agreement between China and the U.S., according to Semafor’s excerpts of the book.
“My Mike, that fucking guy hates you!” Trump said of Xi, Pompeo recounts.
Trump was also reportedly concerned because the U.S. depended on China for medical supplies. He accused Pompeo of “putting us all at risk” by antagonizing Xi, according to the published excerpts.
“Stop, for God’s sake!” Trump told Pompeo, according to the book excerpts.
Pompeo said he kept his mouth shut about China after that.
“We needed health equipment and were at the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party’s] mercy for it,” Pompeo said in his book. “I worked for the president, and would bide my time.”
In fact, though, the U.S. State Department shipped 17.8 tons of donated coronavirus medical supplies to China in February 2020 when health experts and some American lawmakers were already seeking federal action to prepare the U.S. for the growing pandemic. The massive shipment to China included medical masks, gowns and respirators, which were in desperately short supply across America by the end of March.
Trump spent months thanking Xi for the dictator’s transparency and cooperation during the pandemic. But he then switched to vilifying Xi and China over the disease — and was soon calling COVID the “Wuhan virus,” the “Chinese virus” or the racist “Kung flu.”
The former president continues to rail against China over its surging power. He told media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post earlier this week that if he becomes president again he would enact “aggressive new restrictions on Chinese ownership of any vital infrastructure in the United States.”