The time has come for the world to push back against the challenge posed by the Chinese Communist Party, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said as he contended that the US "slept on this threat for too long."
Pompeo also said the Chinese government was aware of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus before they shared this information with the world.
"Countries not only in Southeast Asia but in Asia more broadly, in Europe, have come to understand the threat that the Chinese Communist Party presents. The United States slept on this for too long," Pompeo told Bill Hemmer of Fox News in an interview on Thursday.
"I think they all did too, and I think they're coming to a joint conclusion that it's time for the world to make sure that we get this right.
"For democracies and freedom-loving people around the world, it is an imperative that we push back against the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party presents to us all," Pompeo said.
He said that for 40 years, successive US administrations just looked the other way and allowed China to trample on America. President Donald Trump said "no more," he said.
The US is going to have fair, reciprocal trade relationships; and it is going to demand that the Chinese Communist Party treat Americans the same way that the US treats people who go there, he said.
Hemmer asked Pompeo to comment on claims by Hong Kong-based virologist Dr Yan Li-Meng, who recently fled to the United States, that Beijing knew that the virus could spread between humans three weeks before that knowledge was made public.
Pompeo said that the World Health Organisation itself was co-opted into the same effort to deny the world the knowledge it needed to respond to this threat, to this threat from the virus that emanated from Wuhan, China.
"This is a simple understanding, and President Trump is going to demand that it happens," he said.
"And of course, now too, we've seen the virus that started in Wuhan, China cost the globe hundreds of thousands of people and trillions and trillions of dollars, and I believe the world is going to unite to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for having covered this up when they could have prevented so much of this tragedy, said the top American diplomat.
The United States has been the worst-hit country with over 3.5 million coronavirus cases. The country has reported more than 137,000 deaths so far.
Pompeo refrained from responding to news reports that there could be a ban on US travel for Chinese party members and their families.
"We're working our way through, under the president's guidance, about how to think about pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party. You see it in trade, you see it in other economic activity, you see it in diplomatic engagement," he added.
"The rights that we have that the Declaration of Independence set forth, that are in our Constitution, are central to American foreign policy. We have to get that right. We have this deep tradition. It's under attack, he said in response to a question.