CHINA NIXES NEW U.S. PROBE INTO ORIGIN OF COVID-19 VIRUS
China rejected US President Joe Biden's order for a new investigation by US intelligence agencies into the origins of the coronavirus, accusing the US of trying to politicize the search, Andreas Landwehr reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday accused the US of trying to pin the blame for the pandemic on China and defended his country against suspicions that the coronavirus may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory following an accident.
He stressed that World Health Organization (WHO) experts had concluded in February that a leak from a lab was "extremely unlikely" after they had conducted investigations in the central city of Wuhan.
"Some people in the US are turning a blind eye to the facts," Zhao said, adding that they are trying to distract from their own "incompetent response" to the pandemic.
He also suggested that the coronavirus could have originated from a US military laboratory, but there is no US military lab in Wuhan.
On record, the COVID-19 outbreak happened in Wuhan and no other infection had been found anywhere in the world before November 2019.
"There are many doubts about [the lab] at Fort Detrick - and the US has more than 200 biological laboratories in the world," he said. If the US asked China to participate in a full investigation, he said, China in turn would ask the US to follow China's lead and allow international investigations.
Amanda Schoch, assistant director of the United States' National Intelligence for Strategic Communications, said investigations would "aggressively" continue.
"The US Intelligence Community (IC) does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus was transmitted initially but has coalesced around two likely scenarios: either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident," a statement read.
"While two elements of the IC lean toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter - each with low or moderate confidence - the majority of elements within the IC do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other."