China concealed the early coronavirus outbreak, former MI6 spymaster says

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) chief John Sawers addresses a live televised gathering of academics, officials and editors in London October 28, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - China concealed crucial information about the novel coronavirus outbreak from the rest of the world and so should answer for its deceit, the former head of Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) which he said had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus.

John Sawers, the chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, from 2009 to 2014, said it would be better to hold China responsible rather than the WHO.

“There is deep anger in America at what they see as having been inflicted on us all by China and China is evading a good deal of responsibility for the origin of the virus, for failing to deal with it initially,” Sawers told the BBC.

“Intelligence is about acquiring information which has been concealed from you by other states and other actors, there was a brief period in December and January when the Chinese were indeed concealing this from the West.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton