The Chinese government lashed out on Sunday against a report by U.S. intelligence services on the origins of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, calling it “political and false” and urging Washington to “stop attacking” China.
“No matter how many times the report is published or how many versions it comes in, it will not change the fact that this report is in essence a political and false one, with no scientific basis or credibility,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a statement.
China had already expressed its firm opposition to the initial conclusions published in a summarised version of the report in late August, the Foreign Ministry said. It added that the fact that the intelligence agencies had been used to trace the origin of the virus was “ironclad proof” that the matter had been politicised and urged the United States to “stop attacking and smearing China.”
The document published on Friday was a fuller version of a top-secret report submitted in late August to U.S. President Joe Biden, who had given the intelligence services 90 days to redouble their efforts to explain the origins of the pandemic, Belga news agency reports. President Biden said at the time that, without new information, the intelligence agencies would not be able to judge whether the outbreak was caused by animal-to-human transmission or a laboratory leak.
He had added that China’s cooperation was probably necessary to arrive at a conclusive assessment of the origins of the virus, but accused Beijing of continuing to hinder the global investigation.
According to the “lab leak” theory, the virus was spread from a research centre in Wuhan, the city where the contagion was first reported. However, this theory has not been substantiated and China has repeatedly dismissed it.
Beijing was urged to envisage a new investigation into the origins of the pandemic after a delayed and highly politicised visit by a team of international experts led by the World Health Organization that failed to determine the origin of the outbreak.
“As far as WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros commented. “This report is a very important beginning, but it is not the end. We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do.”
However, the Chinese authorities resisted the calls, describing them as politically motivated.
In August, President Biden said China was withholding “essential information” on the origins of Covid-19 and accused the Chinese authorities of working to prevent access for the international investigators.
Although the review commissioned by President Biden was launched at a time when the lab-leak theory was gaining traction, the report noted that most agencies believed the virus was not genetically engineered.