US report on origins of COVID-19 ‘mendacious’, made for political purposes: China

Beijing, Aug 28 (PTI) China on Saturday termed as “mendacious” a report by the US intelligence community on the origins of COVID-19, saying it was made up for political purposes and has no scientific basis or credibility in it and firmly objected to the allegation by Washington that Beijing stalled international probe and resisted in sharing information about the coronavirus.

The US intelligence community in its report on Friday concluded that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was “not developed” as a biological weapon, with President Joe Biden reiterating that China continues to reject calls for transparency and withhold information about the origins of the virus.

However, there was no unanimity among the intelligence community (IC) on the origins of the coronavirus and the intelligence community was split on whether it leaked from a lab in China or emerged in nature.

Reacting to the report, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said, “It is a mendacious report made up for political purposes. There is no scientific basis or credibility in it. The US has also released a statement slandering and attacking China. The Chinese side hereby expresses its firm objection. It has made strong representations with the US.”

“The US accuses China of not being transparent or cooperative on origins tracing. This is sheer nonsense. China attaches great importance to international scientific cooperation on origins tracing, and has taken an active part in such cooperation,” he said.

“We want to once again warn the US side that politicising origins tracing will lead nowhere. We urge the US to immediately stop doing anything that poisons the atmosphere for international cooperation on origins tracing or undermines global solidarity against the pandemic, and return to the right track of science-based origins tracing and cooperation in the face of the pandemic,” he said.

Despite criticism in the report of China’s reluctance to provide key information and blocking a probe, the report is regarded here as a major relief for China as it has failed to pin the blame on Beijing and was much on the same lines as the first probe conducted by WHO experts.

Soon after its release in Washington, China said the “report fabricated by the US intelligence community is not scientifically credible .

The report by the US intelligence community has not produced an exact answer the US side wants. Continuing such an effort will also be in vain, because its subject is simply non-existent and anti-science, it said.

The origin-tracing is a matter of science; it should and can only be left to scientists, not intelligence experts. There has been no lack of ‘masterpieces’ by the US intelligence community, official media here quoted a Chinese Embassy statement in Washington as saying.

The assertion of lack of transparency on the part of China is only an excuse for its politicising and stigmatising campaign. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has taken an open, transparent and responsible attitude, it said and listed the release of genome sequencing of the virus besides Wuhan authorities releasing the first suspected cases on December 27, 2019.

Vice Foreign Minister Ma said that the US disregards science and facts and is instead obsessed with political manipulation and origins tracing by the intelligence community.

“Without providing any evidence, the US has cooked up one story after another to defame and accuse China. The aim is to use origins tracing to shift blame onto China and spread the political virus. The deployment of the intelligence community in origins tracing is in itself a compelling evidence of the politicisation of the issue,” he said.

Referring to the visit of a joint WHO-China team to Wuhan in March this year, which had spent four weeks visiting various places, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s statement said the experts team had concluded that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal and the leak of the virus from the lab was extremely unlikely pathway .

China has been stalling a 2nd WHO experts probe insisting that such an investigation should probe its allegations that the virus has emerged from different parts of the world around the same time while it only reported first.

On origin-tracing, China has followed a science-based, professional, serious and responsible approach. We are the first to cooperate with the WHO on global origin-tracing, and we have invited WHO experts to conduct the investigations twice in China, the statement said.

Accusing US of not being transparent, responsible and cooperative on this issue, Ma said that Washington should probe the US bio-lab Fort Detrick located in Maryland.

More than 80 countries have written to the WHO Director-General for an inquiry into the Fort Detrick base, he said.

Isn’t it necessary for the US side to invite WHO experts to Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina (UNC) for investigation? the statement said, alleging that the American bio-lab has long been engaged in coronavirus research and modification.

China always supports and will continue to participate in science-based origin-tracing. What we are against is political manipulation, presumption of guilt and putting blame on others, it said.

Any Phase II origins study must be a comprehensive extension of Phase I and conducted in multiple places and countries to find out the truth, it said.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the deadly virus has so far infected 215,290,716 people and claimed 4,483,136 lives globally.