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Secretary of State Antony Blinken evaded questions about whether the U.S. would seek retaliatory actions against China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, instead saying that the focus should be on preventing another pandemic in the future.

Why it matters: The diplomat said there should be "accountability for the past," positioning himself in contrast to his predecessor Mike Pompeo, who had called for China to be punished, per CNN.

What they're saying: "I think the issue for us is to make sure that we do everything possible to prevent another pandemic, even as we're working through this one, or at the very least, to make sure that we can mitigate in much more effective ways any damage done if something happens in the future," Blinken said.

  • A large part of preparing for a future pandemic, Blinken said, would be having "a system in place, including with the World Health Organization that features transparency, that features information sharing, and features access for international experts at the start of something like this."
  • "[T]hat's going to require a lot of reform, and that's going to require China to do things that it hasn’t done in the past."

Blinken also expressed concern about a forthcoming WHO report on the origins of the coronavirus outbreak because of the Chinese government's role in helping author it.

Flashback: During his confirmation hearing in January, Blinken said the that China had misled the world with regards to the coronavirus outbreak, per the New York Times.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 28, 2021 - World

Blinken slams China over retaliatory sanctions on U.S. and Canadian officials

Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday. Photo: Martin Bertrand/Pool/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday night denounced retaliatory sanctions imposed by China on American and Canadian officials as "baseless."

Why it matters: In an escalating feud over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China announced sanctions earlier Saturday on officials including USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin, wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and USCIRF vice chair Tony Perkins.

Mar 28, 2021 - Health

The key to opening schools: Better air flow

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Getting kids back to in-person learning could hinge on upgrading the ventilation systems in school buildings.

Why it matters: This is a massive undertaking in the U.S., where school maintenance has been neglected and the average school building is 44 years old. Significant stimulus funds can be funneled to installing new A/C systems, but it may not happen by fall.

Mark Meadows will stop cooperating with Jan. 6 panel, attorney says

Photo: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will no longer cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, his attorney told Fox News Tuesday.

Why it matters: Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel last month, is believed to have insight into former President Trump's role in efforts to stop the certification of President Biden's election win.