China Says Politics Behind U.S. Call for Virus Origin Probe

BEIJING (AP) -
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

China on Thursday accused the Biden administration of playing politics and shirking its responsibility in calling for a renewed investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that was first detected in China in late 2019.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing that President Joe Biden’s order showed the U.S. “does not care about facts and truth, nor is it interested in serious scientific origin tracing.”

Biden told U.S. intelligence officials to redouble their efforts to investigate the origins of the pandemic, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.

After months of minimizing that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining worldwide pressure on China to be more open about the outbreak, aiming to head off Republican complaints the president has not been tough enough to press China on alleged obstruction.

Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal in Wuhan, China.

Zhao also said the U.S. must open itself up to investigations into its biological laboratories, including at the military’s Fort Detrick base.

“The U.S. side claims that it wants China to participate in a comprehensive, transparent, evidence-based international investigation,” Zhao said. “We would like to ask the U.S. side to do the same as China and immediately cooperate with the World Health Organization on origin-tracing research in a scientific manner.”