Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian decried on Monday Washington’s claims that Beijing risks facing isolation if does not agree to another probe into the COVID-19 origins, calling them “sheer blackmail and threat.”
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told Fox News Sunday that Washington would further exert pressure on China to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, noting that Beijing will face isolation if it does not cooperate.
“The relevant statements of the US side are sheer blackmail and threat. China expresses strong dissatisfaction with it and forcefully opposes it, we will never accept this,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.
China has been open and transparent on the matter since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as unconditionally shared its experience with other countries in preventing and controlling the epidemics, diagnosing and treating the disease, the diplomat said, recalling that China received two international expert teams sent by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Statements that China said ‘no’ to an investigation to establish the origins of the coronavirus are completely groundless, statements that China will be in international isolation are even more deliberate intimidation,” the spokesman said, noting that establishing the origins is a scientific issue that should not be arbitrarily politicized.
Early this year, the WHO sent a mission to Wuhan — the world’s first hotbed of the coronavirus — where experts examined a laboratory, hospitals and markets for clues on the virus’ origins. They concluded that the leak from the lab was “extremely unlikely,” while the virus was most likely transmitted to humans from bats through an intermediary animal.
Following the probe, Washington expressed concerns about whether China duly communicated raw data on the coronavirus to the WHO. Tensions over the issue took another turn last month when President Joe Biden ordered the US intelligence community to produce a report re-examining the origins of the coronavirus and determining whether the disease leaked from a lab or spread from an infected animal to a human. Commenting on this, Beijing said that scientists, not intelligence services, should be engaged in finding out the origin of COVID-19, calling the lab-leak theory a conspiracy.