• By The Financial District


More than a year since the coronavirus pandemic began, while a surprising -- and frustrating -- number of points remain unclear, one thing is certain: The first major outbreak was in the central Chinese city of Wuhan., James Griffiths wrote for CNN.

While scientists are still examining the exact origins of the virus, whether or not it came from bats or another animal, how it mutated to become so infectious and so deadly, and how long it was around before the initial outbreak, that Wuhan was the initial epicenter is undeniable.

On Monday, reports circulated on Chinese social media that the virus had been detected on auto part packaging in multiple cities, including from foreign brands. By the afternoon, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, had stepped in to tell state media the auto parts in question were not imported, and whatever traces of the virus were detected were unlikely to be infectious.

While Wu effectively dismissed the potential car parts origin theory, it has echoes of far more widely reported claims that the virus could have entered China via frozen foods.

As the country has moved past its initial mishandling of the virus -- officials appear to have downplayed its severity and the potential for a pandemic, preventing an effective response until too late -- Beijing has reveled in contrasting its own successes with the situation in other countries, particularly the United States.

But the stain of being the place where the pandemic emerged remains. In recent months, Chinese state media and officials have begun hyping up reports of potential other sources, pointing to research that may suggest -- or can be manipulated to suggest -- that the virus was circulating earlier than first thought and, most importantly, was circulating outside of China.

This does little to change the fact Wuhan was where the first outbreak occurred, but the chance of blaming another country for the pandemic, just as China was -- largely unfairly -- blamed for the emergence of the coronavirus last year, seems too good to pass up.

"More and more research suggest that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed this month.

"(China took) immediate actions to carry out epidemiological investigation, identify the pathogen and publicize key information including the genome sequencing of the virus. All this sounded alarm bells across the world." Of course, Wang is lying. It took weeks before China acknowledged the outbreak.