China accused the Biden administration on Thursday of playing politics and avoiding responsibility by calling for a new investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which was discovered in China in late 2019.
At a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated that President Joe Biden’s order demonstrated that the US “does not care about facts and truth, nor is it interested in serious scientific origin tracing.” Biden directed U.S. intelligence officials to redouble their efforts to investigate the pandemic’s origins, including any possibility that the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.
After months of dismissing the possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining global pressure on China to be more open about the outbreak, aiming to quell Republican complaints that the president has not been tough enough on alleged obstruction.
Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have advocated for the virus to have originated in a laboratory rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal in Wuhan, China. Zhao also stated that the United States must allow investigations into its biological laboratories, including those at the Naval Medical Research Center’s Biological Defense Research Directorate at Fort Detrick in Maryland.
“The US side claims that it wants China to participate in a comprehensive, transparent, evidence-based international investigation,” Zhao said. “We would like to ask the US side to do the same as China and immediately cooperate with the World Health Organization on scientific origin tracing research.”
Biden asked U.S. intelligence agencies to report back within 90 days on Wednesday. He directed that the investigation be assisted by US national laboratories, and that the intelligence community prepare a list of specific questions for the Chinese government. He urged China to cooperate with international investigations into the pandemic’s origins.
Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged accidentally in a laboratory rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal at Wuhan’s traditional wet market.
In a statement, Biden stated that the majority of the intelligence community has “coalesced” around those two scenarios but “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” He revealed that two agencies lean toward the animal link and “one leans more toward” the lab theory, “each with low or moderate confidence.”
Prior to the president’s statement, his administration had sought to avoid public discussion of the lab leak theory, while privately implying it was implausible. Another sign of shifting attitudes was the Senate’s unanimous approval of two Wuhan lab-related amendments, which were attached to a largely unrelated bill to increase US investments in innovation.
Given the Chinese government’s refusal to fully cooperate with international investigations, Biden maintained that a firm conclusion may never be reached. “Any investigation into the origin of COVID-19 will always be hampered by our failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months,” he said.
Administration officials continue to have serious reservations about the lab leak theory, seeing China’s refusal to cooperate in the investigation as an example of other irresponsible behavior on the global stage. Andy Slavitt, Biden’s coronavirus senior adviser, stated on Tuesday that the world must “get to the bottom… whatever the answer is.”
“We need a completely transparent process from China, and we need the WHO to help us with that,”′′ Slavitt said. “We don’t have that right now.” Zhao stated that the administration’s position was taken “in total disregard of facts and science… while completely ignoring the doubts over the origin-tracing work and failure of pandemic response in the United States.”
“This clearly demonstrates that the US side is unconcerned about facts and truth, nor is it interested in serious scientific origin tracing, but instead wishes to use the epidemic to engage in stigmatization and political manipulation, as well as to avoid responsibility.” “Zhao stated. “This is disrespectful to science and irresponsible with people’s lives, and it undermines global unity in the fight against the epidemic.”