Washington - Publicly-funded US broadcaster Voice of America has rubbished criticism from the White House that it is promoting Chinese “foreign propaganda” on the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement on Friday, President Donald Trump’s administration claimed VOA pushed Beijing’s message by tweeting a video of celebrations at the end of Wuhan’s quarantine measures, and noting the US had surpassed China’s death toll. “VOA too often speaks for America’s adversaries -- not its citizens,” the White House claimed, adding: “Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda.” At least 18,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, compared to about 3,000 Chinese nationals, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. VOA director Amanda Bennet pushed back at the criticism -- while not mentioning the Trump administration -- noting that the broadcaster had reported on China’s efforts to initially hide the coronavirus outbreak. “VOA has thoroughly debunked much of the information coming from the Chinese government and government-controlled media,” she said in a statement. The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the White House’s comments as “outrageous” and said they undermined VOA’s work around the world.

VOA is among several US media organizations -- including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times -- effectively banned from reporting in China by Beijing following its coverage of the outbreak.