COVID-19: China accuses US of being 'disrespectful to science' over coronavirus origins probe

·2-min read

Beijing has accused the US of playing politics and shirking its responsibility in calling for a new investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that was first detected in China in late 2019.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said president Joe Biden's order showed the US "doesn't care about facts and truth, nor is it interested in serious scientific origin tracing".

He claimed the US "wants to use the epidemic to engage in stigmatisation and political manipulation, and to shirk responsibility".

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"This is disrespectful to science and irresponsible to people's lives, and moreover, it undermines the global unity of efforts to fight the epidemic," Mr Zhao added.

Earlier this week, Mr Biden told US intelligence officials to redouble their efforts to investigate the origins of the pandemic, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.

After months of minimising that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining worldwide pressure on China to be more open about the outbreak.

He directed US national laboratories to assist with the investigation and the intelligence community to prepare a list of specific queries for the Chinese government.

And China has been urged to cooperate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.

Mr Biden hopes to head off Republican complaints that the president has not been tough enough to press China on alleged obstruction.

Republicans, including former president Donald Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal in Wuhan.

Following the president's comments, Mr Zhao said the US must open itself up to investigations into its biological laboratories, including at the military's Fort Detrick base.

"The US side claims that it wants China to participate in a comprehensive, transparent, evidence-based international investigation," he said.

"We would like to ask the US side to do the same as China and immediately cooperate with the World Health Organisation on origin tracing research in a scientific manner."

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