China, which faced global criticism after the virus became a pandemic claiming over two million lives, has been vehemently asserting that the coronavirus has emerged in several places in the world, while it only reported it first.
But Beijing is more resentful of outgoing US President Donald Trump and Pompeo for alleging that the virus may have emerged from the premier Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which researches Zoonotic diseases.
A latest document issued by the US State department reinforcing its previous allegation that the virus may have emerged from the WIV, coinciding with the visit of a WHO inquiry team of scientists to Wuhan has further riled Beijing.
Reacting angrily to the US document, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here on Monday that “the statement and the list are full of conspiracies and lies, which are consistent with certain US officials who have dealt with the pandemic in a passive way and constantly shifted the blame to others. The list is another US-made list of lies”.
The US document said “for more than a year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the Covid-19 pandemic’s origin, choosing instead to devote enormous resources to deceit and disinformation”.
“The US government does not know exactly where, when, or how the Covid-19 virus – known as SARS-CoV-2 – was transmitted initially to humans. We have not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” it said.
“The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic,” it said.
“Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection. Scientists in China have researched animal-derived coronaviruses under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure,” it said.
“The US government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses.
“This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was ‘zero infection’ among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses,” it said.
Significantly, China has honoured Shi who has earned the moniker of ‘Bat Woman‘ for her passionate research into bats and viruses as an “advanced worker of the Chinese Academy of Sciences”.
The honour coincides with the arrival of the WHO team which is expected to visit the WIV.
Shi now has alleged in the official media here that mink, not the bat or pangolin could be a possible host of the origin of the novel coronavirus, and called on the world to probe samples from more susceptible animals to determine when the virus moved to humans.
The state department document also alleged that “for many years the United States has publicly raised concerns about China’s past biological weapons work, which Beijing has neither documented nor demonstrably eliminated, despite its clear obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention”.
Pompeo’s latest tweets against China on a host of issues, including its political system, official media, Beijing’s response to Covid-19, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea, “fully showed that some US politicians ignored public safety and lives, go against science and are obsessed with making propaganda about conspiracies and spreading ‘the political virus’,” Hua said.
“This is also the final madness staged by Pompeo, this Mr. Liar,” she said.
“What I want to emphasise is if the US truly respects science and facts, it should open the Fort Detrick laboratory and make questions about its over 200 overseas labs open to the public, while inviting WHO experts to look into the origins and answer the international community’s suspicions,” she said.