Xi threatened WHO: Don’t tell world about COVID-19
As pressure mounts for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19, reports from intelligence agencies around the world are pointing the finger squarely at Beijing for pressuring global health bodies not to declare coronavirus an emergency until it was too late.
Overnight, the American news magazine Newsweek published findings from two US intelligence officials who said that Xi Jinping's regime demanded the World Health Organisation not declare a global health emergency or risk Beijing ceasing co-operation with the agency.
This comes on the heels of a similar report - which had been strenuously denied by the WHO - in the German magazine Der Spiegel.
In the Der Spiegel account, German intelligence figures revealed that they believed Xi Jinping personally pressured WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in late January.
According to Der Spiegel, China "urged" the WHO to "delay a global warning" and demanded Tedros "hold back information about human to human transmission and to delay a pandemic warning."
These delays, as it turned out, proved to be deadly - and if these intelligence reports are confirmed, they will only bolster the case for global outrage against the communist regime in Beijing.
In the last 24 hours, though, China appeared to double down, escalating its trade war rhetoric with Canberra over the Morrison government's demands for an inquiry into whether the coronavirus made the leap to humans in a Wuhan wet market, or whether it escaped in a mishap at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Research published in March by the UK's University of Southampton found that had China took measures to contain the outbreak just three weeks earlier, some 95 per cent of coronavirus infections could have been prevented - saving countless lives and jobs and preventing trillions of dollars in damage to the global economy.
Meanwhile the WHO, which has faced severe criticism for its delays in warning the world of the approaching crisis, issued a statement denying that it had been pressured.
Instead, it claims that "WHO bases its recommendations on science, public health best practices, evidence, data, and the advice of independent experts."