China criticises US for shifting responsibility for ‘failure’ to contain Covid

War of words continues as origin of coronavirus remains unclear

John Bowden
Wednesday 25 August 2021 23:08
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A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry hit out at the Biden administration for the US’s “failure” to contain Covid-19 in response to reports that American intelligence officials plan to blame Beijing for not releasing more information to assist the international effort to determine the origin of the virus.

Wang Wenbin asserted to reporters on Thursday that a classified US report which The Washington Post reported on was delivered to President Joe Biden this week was never intended to truly determine where Covid-19 first emerged, and instead was a political document seeking to shift responsibility for the scale of the outbreak of Covid-19 in the US.

“The US Government draws on the intelligence apparatus to publish the so-called report on origins tracing. Its aim is not to get to the bottom of the origins of the virus, or to form a scientific report based on facts and scientific methods. What the US is really up to is to shift the responsibility of its failure in pandemic response domestically and scapegoat China,” said Mr Wang.

“Such a report to plant evidence that is all about politics, naturally will not reach any scientific conclusion on origins tracing of COVID-19, but will only interfere in and undermine the global efforts of origins tracing and cooperation on pandemic response,” he continued, adding: “The allegation of lack of information from China is just an excuse to cover up the US’ own failure in relying on intelligence to trace the origins of the virus.”

Mr Wang went on to encourage US officials to rely on the joint Chinese/World Health Organization report released earlier this year that left open a number of possibilities for the virus’s origin. One favoured hypothesis of conservatives and other critics of the Chinese government has been the so-called “lab leak theory”, which posits that the virus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was leaked out of the lab in an accident or on purpose. That theory was judged to be “extremely” unlikely by the report.

The US-led investigation was also pilloried in editorials published in People’s Daily, a state-run news organisation, which argued, “[w]ho would believe that its investigation conclusions are impartial and professionally authoritative?”

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the report’s conclusions would be released to the public, but she did not preview in what way the findings would be presented.

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