WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he believes the world will make China "pay a price" for the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think the world will absolutely make them pay a price," the nation's top diplomat said during a virtual event with The Hill.
"Every place I go, every foreign minister that I talk to, they recognize what China has done to the world. I'm very confident that the world will look at China differently and engage with them fundamentally different than they did before this catastrophic disaster," Pompeo said.
The Trump administration for months has hinted that the U.S. would take steps to punish China for failing to prevent the deadly virus, which was first observed in the Chinese city of Wuhan, from spreading around the globe.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed legislation to impose sanctions on China in response to its interference with Hong Kong's autonomy. However, two sources told CNBC's Kayla Tausche that Trump plans to hold off on sanctions for the time being over concerns of a worsening relationship with China.
Pompeo on Wednesday also accused China of working with the World Health Organization to downplay the growing coronavirus crisis. Earlier this month, the Trump administration submitted its notice to withdraw from the World Health Organization by July 6, 2021, a senior administration official confirmed to CNBC.
"When you have an incident in your country that could potentially lead to a pandemic, you have an obligation to report that and to allow others to come in and help you be transparent about it. The Chinese Communist Party chose differently they co-opted the World Health Organization to achieve that cover-up," Pompeo said.
"The result today is that we have hundreds of thousands of people who have died and trillions of dollars in global damage as a direct result of the Chinese Communist Party's decision."
The WHO has defended its handling of the pandemic.
More than half a million people worldwide have died from the virus, with the U.S. reporting more deaths and infections from Covid-19 than any other nation, according to tallies by Johns Hopkins University.