The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday urged the US to take four steps on COVID-19 origins tracing if it wants to show transparency, including disclosing data on early COVID-19 cases, inviting the World Health Organization (WHO) to probe Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina, and publishing data on sick soldiers who attended the Wuhan Military World Games, amid mounting calls from China and the international community to investigate the US on COVID-19 origins and growing outrage on the Biden administration’s political maneuver which severely hampered the global virus tracing task.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, made the recommendations for Washington at Friday’s media briefing. He said that in order to shift responsibility from its failed COVID-19 response and achieve its political goal of smearing other countries, the US has politicized the pandemic, stigmatized the virus, and turned the COVID-19 origins tracing into a tool, and it has taken lying, discrediting and coercion as its means while showing no respect to science and justice.
“You cannot whitewash yourself by smearing others. If the US truly wants to be transparent and responsible, please start with the four things,” Zhao said.
Zhao’s recommendations were made Friday, as an online petition urging the WHO to investigate the Fort Detrick lab has gained more than 20 million signatures by early Saturday morning.
A group of Chinese netizens drafted the petition and entrusted the Global Times to post the petition on WeChat and Weibo on July 17 to solicit public response. This week, the petition also opened channels for overseas participants.
Prior to Zhao’s four recommendations to the US, several US senators proposed three steps for the US to do on virus origins, and Chinese experts said the two formed a sharp contrast as China offered an advice based on a scientific perspective, and the US clearly weaponized the issue for political purposes of containing China.
Several US senators including Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday asking the administration to take three steps on COVID-19 origins – directing the intelligence community to continue investigating, working with allies and partners to “use all available resources and tools” to pressure Beijing into permitting an investigation in China, and completing a thorough review of existing and prior US government support or funding for research collaboration with China.
Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the US senators’ three steps clearly reflected that the US manipulated the virus origins issue to smear China’s achievement in epidemic control and China’s international status and image so that China’s rapid development would not affect the US’ world leadership in the post-pandemic era.
But no matter how the US tried to manipulate the issue and shift the blame to China, it cannot hide the fact that the US is the biggest loser in the pandemic response, Li said.
Zhao urged the US to disclose data on early cases including the unexplained respiratory disease in Virginia, vaping-related lung disease in Wisconsin in July 2019 and flu patients in the winter of 2019.
“The US should conduct nucleic acid testing and anti-body tests to serum samples of these patients to find out how many of them were actually COVID-19 patients,” Zhao said.