Reacting to Mike Pompeo’s recent claims that the book coronavirus could have escaped from a Wuhan lab, China pushed back with its conspiracy theories targeting the US.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said the biological lab at Fort Detrick ought to be investigated as a potential source of the coronavirus pandemic.
There is presently a WHO team in China exploring the roots of COVID-19, but it has not been over a year because the Wuhan outbreak began.
In one of his last official acts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the US has reason to believe the novel coronavirus pandemic may have begun as an accident in a Wuhan lab, urging WHO officials to investigate the matter. Pompeo didn’t offer any evidence when creating the claims, that could have represented Trump’s final attempt to place the blame for the pandemic on China. But that wasn’t the final episode at the blame game between the US and China, since the latter has responded in kind. With two days of President Biden’s inauguration, Chinese officials started pushing their own conspiracy theory, asserting that the US is actually responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesperson from China’s foreign ministry stated through a press conference on January 18th the US should open Fort Detrick to an investigation of COVID-19’s origins. “I’d like to stress that if the United States truly respects facts, it should open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, give more transparency to issues like its 200-plus overseas bio-labs, invite WHO [the World Health Organization] experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States, and respond to the concerns from the international community with real actions,” Hua Chunying said, through Quartz.
The remarks were provided in direct answer to a query on China’s response to Pompeo’s statement last week. On Wednesday, China imposed sanctions on almost 30 former Trump government officials, just before they left office. Pompeo was one of them, although China’s foreign ministry’s official statement made no particular mention of COVID-19 asserts when announcing the sanctions.
The consensus is that the book coronavirus jumped from animals to humans at some point before the Wuhan outbreak. A WHO evaluation is underway in China, over a year after the initial outbreak. China delayed the investigation and tried several times last year to offer alternative origin stories for COVID-19, pointing to the US, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent as possible sources of the virus.
China has faced criticism since the start of the pandemic for delaying measures which could have decreased the spread of the virus, for failing to confirm human spread on time, and also for not being transparent about the way it managed its early response to the Wuhan outbreak. China’s COVID-19 figures for Wuhan were also questioned. China was finally able to contain the spread of this virus in the country, but it still retained stalling the analysis.
This past year, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused US athletes in the military who attended a sports event in Wuhan in 2019 of getting brought the virus into the nation.
On Monday, Hua’s remarks went viral online from China, together with the conspiracy theory gaining momentum on Weibo. Hashtags for foreign ministry and the US Fort Detrick biology lab trended on Weibo as Chinese media reported Hua’s remarks. The Fort Detrick hashtag was seen over one billion times, even though a post with Hua’s answer received over 4.5 million up-votes. Some comments indicate that many people think the conspiracy theory is accurate.