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Secretary of State Blinken evades question on punishing China for COVID handling

Secretary of State Antony Blinken evaded questions about whether the U.S. would seek retaliatory actions against China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, instead saying that the focus should be on preventing another pandemic in the future.

Why it matters: The diplomat said there should be "accountability for the past," positioning himself in contrast to his predecessor Mike Pompeo, who had called for China to be punished, per CNN.

What they're saying: "I think the issue for us is to make sure that we do everything possible to prevent another pandemic, even as we're working through this one, or at the very least, to make sure that we can mitigate in much more effective ways any damage done if something happens in the future," Blinken said.

  • A large part of preparing for a future pandemic, Blinken said, would be having "a system in place, including with the World Health Organization that features transparency, that features information sharing, and features access for international experts at the start of something like this."
  • "[T]hat's going to require a lot of reform, and that's going to require China to do things that it hasn’t done in the past."

Blinken also expressed concern about a forthcoming WHO report on the origins of the coronavirus outbreak because of the Chinese government's role in helping author it.

Flashback: During his confirmation hearing in January, Blinken said the that China had misled the world with regards to the coronavirus outbreak, per the New York Times.

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