BEIJING, China — Prior to the release of a US intelligence assessment on the origins of the coronavirus, China went on the offensive Wednesday, bringing out a senior official to accuse the United States of politicizing the matter by attempting to blame China.
“If they want to blame China without evidence, they better be ready to accept China’s retaliation,” he added.
China, the United States, and the World Health Organization are at odds about whether the virus that causes COVID-19 escaped from a facility in Wuhan, where the illness was originally discovered in late 2019.
Early this year, a joint WHO-China assessment determined that a lab leak was “very unlikely,” and China wants the inquiry to move on to other options. According to the research, the virus most likely spread from bats to another species, which subsequently infected people.
The findings, however, aren’t definitive, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated in late March that “all theories are on the table and demand comprehensive and additional investigations.”
Both ideas have been subjected to a 90-day examination by intelligence services, according to US President Joe Biden. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, indicated on Monday that an unclassified version of the report will be issued in “a few days.”
China has suggested that the virus may have escaped from Fort Detrick, a US military lab in Maryland, in response to ongoing suspicions about a breach from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
If other parties persist in following the slab leak scenario, he says the WHO study team should go to Fort Detrick. Since the WHO had visited the Wuhan Institute twice, he framed it as a fairness problem.
The infectious disease institute at Fort Detrick has investigated coronaviruses, according to China, and it was shuttered for many months in 2019-20 due to safety breaches.