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The U.S. and Chinese delegations, face-to-face, at the G20. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee has accused China of carrying out "one of the worst cover-ups in human history" over the novel coronavirus outbreak and inflicting a pandemic and economic calamity on the world.

Why it matters: Rep. Michael McCaul's rhetoric is characteristic of the growing hawkishness toward China among many in Washington, D.C. even, or especially, amid a crisis that is battering both countries.

Driving the news: McCaul spoke with Axios shortly after China revoked credentials from reporters at five U.S. media outlets.

  • "If they expel our journalists, if that's their answer, I worry we will never get to the bottom of this," McCaul said. "But at the end of the day, we will be pointing the finger at China."

Between the lines: China has been criticized in Washington and beyond for prioritizing the containment of information, rather than of the virus itself, when it emerged in Wuhan.

  • It has also been praised for the "war" it belatedly waged on the virus, with Beijing claiming its decisive action "bought the world time."
  • Increasingly confident it's beyond the worst, China is attempting to play a global leadership role. European politicians, including in Serbia and Italy, have praised China for offering help when the EU could or would not.

The big picture: President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other prominent officials have drawn China's ire by referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus."

  • Communist Party officials are simultaneously engaged in a disinformation campaign, questioning the origins of the virus and even claiming it may have been spread by the U.S. military.

That back-and-forth has merged with another, over access for journalists from both countries.

What they're saying: "This came out of Wuhan, China is responsible for that, and they don’t like to hear that so their response is to expel our journalists," McCaul told Axios. "We want the truth to come out about this. I do worry — for two months they tried to cover it up, which made this situation worse."

  • McCaul claimed "unsanitary practices" in China — in the case of COVID-19 at a wet market in Wuhan — had been responsible for several viruses that spread beyond China's borders.
  • "I just don't think they can get away with it this time. I think the World Health Organization should play a role here in — instead of applauding China for their efforts — really holding them responsible for what they've done. They are the cause of a global pandemic."
  • McCaul also said he suspected that China had massively underreported the death toll there.

His bottom line: McCaul said the crisis presented the U.S. and American businesses with an opportunity to re-examine their dependence on China. "That's going to be the ultimate impact of this whole crisis," he said.

Go deeper: Beijing's coronavirus propaganda blitz goes global

Go deeper

Wildfires ravage communities in Northern California as thousands evacuate

Firefighters monitoring the scene as flames from the Dixie Fire jump across highway 89 near Greenville, California, on Tuesday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Two massive California wildfires have triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of people and destroyed homes and businesses in the state's north overnight.

Details: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through the town of Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County Wednesday night. The rapidly spreading River Fire burned "multiple" homes as it tore through Placer and Nevada counties, KOVR notes.

Updated 39 mins ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

The U.S. women's team celebrates during a game against the Netherlands on July 30, 2021 in Yokohama, Japan. Photo: Logan Beerman/ISI Photos/Getty Images

⚽: U.S. women's soccer team beats Australia, wins bronze

🥇: Ryan Crouser breaks his own Olympic shot put record to win gold for U.S.

🛶: U.S. teenager Nevin Harrison wins first Olympic women's canoe 200m

🏐: U.S. Olympic beach volleyball duo one step away from realizing gold medal dream

📷: In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 13 highlights

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

51 mins ago - Sports

U.S. women's soccer team beats Australia, wins Olympic bronze

The U.S. women's team celebrates during a game against the Netherlands on July 30, 2021 in Yokohama, Japan. Photo: Logan Beerman/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The U.S. women's soccer team won the bronze medal on Thursday after beating ninth-ranked Australia 4-3.

Why it matters: Thursday's victory marks the U.S. team's first bronze in Olympic history, handing the team a medal after it failed to earn one during the Rio Games in 2016.