BEIJING: China criticised on Wednesday the US “politicization” of efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus, demanding without any evidence that U.S. labs be investigated, ahead of the release of a U.S. intelligence report on the virus.
The US report is intended to resolve disputes among intelligence agencies considering different theories about how the coronavirus emerged, including a once-dismissed theory about a Chinese laboratory accident.
“Scapegoating China cannot whitewash the US,” Fu Cong, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ arms control department, told a briefing. A White House official said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the classified report. “We look forward to having an unclassified summary of key judgments to share soon,” the official said.
U.S. officials say they did not expect the review to lead to firm conclusions after China stymied earlier international efforts to gather key information on the ground.
China has said a laboratory leak was highly unlikely, and it has ridiculed a theory that coronavirus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 infections emerged in late 2019, setting off the pandemic.
China has instead suggested that the virus slipped out of a lab at the Army’s Fort Detrick base in Maryland in 2019. “It is only fair that if the US insists that this is a valid hypothesis, they should do their turn and invite the investigation into their labs,” said Fu.