Statement by the Chinese Embassy in the United States on the "COVID-19 Origin-Tracing" Report of the U.S. Side

On August 27, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence of the United States released a summary of the intelligence community assessment on COVID-19 origins, which does not rule out either natural exposure or laboratory accident as the origin of SARS-CoV-2. The report wrongly claims that China "continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries". The statement by the White House issued on the same day also purported that China tries to hold back international investigation and rejects calls for transparency. It urges like-minded partners to exert pressure on China. The Chinese side expresses its firm opposition and strong condemnation to this.

First, a report fabricated by the U.S. intelligence community is not scientifically credible. 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 U.S. intelligence community, such as using a tube of laundry powder to convict Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction, or staging the "white helmets" video as evidence for chemical weapon attack in Syria. Now, the US side is using its old trick again. Ignoring the Report by the WHO-China joint mission, it chooses to have its intelligence community put together a report instead. How can this possibly be science-based and reliable origin-tracing?

Second, the assertion of lack of transparency on the part of China is only an excuse for its politicizing and stigmatizing campaign. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has taken an open, transparent and responsible attitude. We have released information, shared the genome sequencing of the virus, and carried out international cooperation to fight the disease, all done at the earliest possible time. On December 27, 2019, Wuhan authorities made the first reporting of suspected cases. On December 30, emergency notices were issued on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause. On December 31, China informed the WHO China Country Office of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan. On January 3, 2020, China began sending regular updates about the novel coronavirus to the WHO and other countries, including the United States. 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. We were completely open, transparent and cooperative when the experts were in China. They visited every site on their list, met every individual they asked for, and were provided with all the data they wanted. The formulation of the Report of the WHO-China joint mission issued on March 30, 2021 follows WHO procedures and adopts a scientific approach. It is authoritative and science-based. The openness and transparency China has displayed has won full recognition from international experts.

Third, the report by the U.S. intelligence community shows that the U.S. is bent on going down the wrong path of political manipulation. The U.S. has registered the most infections and death cases from COVID-19 in the world, and the American people have paid a heavy price. The report by the intelligence community is based on presumption of guilt on the part of China, and it is only for scapegoating China. Such a practice will only disturb and sabotage international cooperation on origin-tracing and on fighting the pandemic, and has been widely opposed by the international community. Over 300 political parties, social organizations and think tanks from more than 100 countries and regions have submitted a joint statement to the WHO Secretariat, firmly opposing politicization of origin-tracing. Doesn't the U.S. side feel it necessary to listen to what they have to say?

Finally, the U.S. has been shying away from tracing the origin in the United States and closing the door on any such possibility. If the US.. side is "transparent and responsible", it should make public and examine the data of its early cases. The timeline of the outbreak in the United States has been revised to earlier dates several times. In at least five American states, there had been infections before the first confirmed case in the U.S. was announced. According to a latest coverage from American media, the first COVID-19 death in the U.S. was in early January 2020, several weeks earlier than previously announced by the authorities, which was early February.

In addition, Wuhan Institute of Virology has received two visits from WHO experts and the WHO-China joint study report has reached the clear conclusion that introduction through a lab accident in Wuhan is "extremely unlikely". If the US insists on the lab leak theory, isn't it necessary for the U.S. side to invite WHO experts to Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina (UNC) for investigation? Fort Detrick has long been engaged in coronavirus research and modification. After its shutdown in 2019 because of serious safety incidents, disease with symptoms similar to COVID-19 broke out in the U.S. The team of Professor Ralph Baric in the UNC possesses extremely mature capability in synthesizing and modifying coronavirus. From January 2015 to June 2020, the UNC reported to the National Institutes of Health 28 lab incidents involving genetically engineered organisms. Six of them involved coronaviruses including SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2. However, instead of finding out what happened in its own labs first, the U.S. keeps slinging mud at others.

China's position on global origin-tracing is consistent and clear. This is a matter of science. 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. 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.

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

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
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