China lashed Mike Pompeo as a "lunatic" in a blistering editorial in its state newspaper after the US Secretary of State called for an investigation into the possibility that Covid-19 was unleashed by a lab leak.
The Global Times piece said Pompeo appeared to have gone "insane", referring to his tweets over the weekend in which he claimed China lied about and hid the virus.
Pompeo said the Trump administration had denounced the cover-up and he had cracked down on China's influence in America, blocking visas for human rights abusers, levying sanctions on Chinese companies and prosecuting thieves who stole US technology.
The news outlet, published by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), yesterday said the Trump administration had been "aggressive in its China relations" while China had been "defensive and restrained".
It called Pompeo's "crazy" behaviour a "manifestation of the extreme, irrational and irresponsible China policy of the US", and warned that the new administration needed to undo the latest "anti-China decisions" to salvage the strained relationship between the two countries.
'MORE EVIL THAN THE RIOTERS'
The Global Times said the "destructive impact" of Pompeo's actions were just as bad as US President Donald Trump's incitement of his supporters during the Capitol riots.
"The current US administration has refused to step down in a quiet manner," the editorial reads. "Trump incited his supporters to make a farce, which is superficial resistance. But Pompeo is piling up troubles for the next administration's foreign policies.
"Pompeo is the savage destroyer of the transitional tradition and rules of US foreign policy. He is more evil than the rioters at Capitol Hill."
The Secretary of State said in his tweets that he was closing down universities used by the CCP to spread disinformation and propaganda, as well as a diplomatic facility in Houston, Texas, which he said had been used for Chinese espionage.
He said he had cracked down on CCP influence operations in the US disguised as cultural exchange programmes, media entities and other organisations.
On Sunday, he demanded the World Health Organisation launch an investigation into the possibility that Covid was an "accidental" lab leak.
The US has always insisted China is to blame, with Trump vowing to declassify secret intelligence linking the virus to their science facility.
Pompeo on Sunday revealed new studies from US intelligence claiming that scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) fell ill in the autumn of 2019 — earlier than previously believed — with symptoms consistent with Covid.
"This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli's public claim that there was 'zero infection' among WIV's staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses," Pompeo said.
Monday's Global Times editorial responded with a furious attack on the outgoing Secretary of State.
"The Capitol riots only cost the US itself, while Pompeo is jeopardising nothing less than world peace and stability," it read. "If the world descends headlong into a geopolitical disaster one day, Pompeo will be revealed as the most infamous among its initiators."
WARNING FOR JOE BIDEN
The editorial claimed that the US Secretary of State was using his final days in the post to "show off his presence" with "a series of abrupt decisions targeting China, Cuba and Iran".
It characterised these decisions as being in his own interests and those of the Republican Party, noting that Pompeo is expected to run for US President in 2024.
China's key warning was for President-elect Joe Biden and his incoming administration, which it called on to abolish the "diplomatic offences" made by the current administration in its final days before the inauguration on January 20.
It said that Biden's vow to rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organisation and "rectify the mistakes of the Trump government" were "far from enough".
"China's focus has shifted to the Biden team which has a window to rectify the extreme policies of its previous administration," said the editorial.
It said Pompeo was "playing with fire" by lifting its self-imposed restrictions on contacts between US officials and their Taiwanese counterparts earlier this month.
Had the lifting of restrictions on US-Taiwan contacts been enacted in the early or middle phases of the Trump administration, the Chinese editorial said, "it might have led to war".
The Trump administration has since declassified documents showing it would defend Taiwan against an attack from China.
Experts have warned that China could capitalise on the current chaos in America to assert its claim over Taiwan, and annex the island of 25 million people that it is now openly threatening to invade.
The Global Times said Pompeo was "maliciously leaving this fatal risk to the Biden team", adding that it hoped the new administration would cast out these "time bombs".
"Beijing will not accept restarting China-US relations based on the series of anti-China decisions made by Pompeo," the editorial warned. "Neither will Chinese society."
It said that if policies released in recent days were implemented, such as the lifting of Taiwan restrictions and sanctions on Chinese companies, "the China-US relationship is bound to suffer a larger crisis than it experienced in the past four years".