The US ambassador to London has said China had endangered the world by suppressing information about the coronavirus outbreak thus allowing it to spread far beyond the Communist republic's borders.
"First it tried to suppress the news," Ambassador Woody Johnson wrote in an article for The Times newspaper published on Thursday, adding that Beijing had then selectively shared critical information while stonewalling international health authorities.
"Had China done the right things at the right time, more of its own population, and the rest of the world, might have been spared the most serious impact of this disease," the ambassador wrote.
"When the crisis finally abates we should take stock of the outcome and evaluate the costs of this breakdown in international collaboration," he said.
Johnson's comments echoed those of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who earlier said China's ruling Communist Party was still denying the world information needed to prevent further coronavirus cases.
The remarks, in an interview with the Washington Watch radio program, provoked a riposte from China that Pompeo should cease "politicising" the epidemic and defaming the country.
Pompeo had repeated previous charges that Beijing's delay in sharing information about the virus had created risks to people worldwide that had "truly put thousands of lives at risk".
"My concern is that this cover-up, this disinformation that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in, is still denying the world the information it needs so that we can prevent further cases or something like this from recurring again," he said.