China has accused the United States of taking a ‘dangerous stance’ in calling for a full investigation into the possibility that COVID–19 escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, warning that Washington ‘could meet its Waterloo in this battle’.
In February 2003 Colin Powell, the then-Secretary of State, told the United Nations that Saddam Hussein’s regime had developed weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat, in a bid to justify invading the country. WMDs were never found.
Biden on Wednesday ordered U.S. intelligence officials to ‘redouble’ their efforts to investigate the pandemic’s beginnings, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.
Xi Jinping (left), the Chinese president. On Sunday his state newspaper, The Global Times, published an op ed attacking Joe Biden for his decision last week to launch an investigation into the possibility that COVID-19 began when the virus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory
Scientists are seen working inside the Wuhan lab in February 2017. The laboratory, known for its expertise in studying viruses, is now thought a possible source for the COVID-19 outbreak – China, meanwhile, insists that the virus simply mutated and passed naturally from animals to humans
After months of minimizing that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is now joining worldwide pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak – aiming to head off Republican complaints the president has not been tough enough as well as to use the opportunity to press China on alleged obstruction.
British intelligence has reportedly assessed the theory recently and upgraded its likeliness from ‘remote’ to ‘feasible’, according to The Sunday Times.
China, meanwhile, insists that the virus simply mutated and passed naturally from animals to humans, likely from a market in the city of Wuhan.
Biden asked U.S. intelligence agencies to report back within 90 days.
He directed U.S. national laboratories to assist with the investigation and the intelligence community to prepare a list of specific queries for the Chinese government. He called on China to cooperate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.
Zhao Lijian, foreign ministry spokesperson, said last week that Biden was not interested in ‘serious’ scientific origin tracing and doesn’t care about ‘facts or truth’.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is seen guarded by police in February 2021. Scientists were allowed in, from the World Health Organization, in January but they were not granted free and unrestricted access to all they needed
A security person moves journalists away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in February, while the WHO team was visiting
Wuhan is accepted by all to be there place where the virus was first identified, and where the first known patients were documented
Zhao also called for the U.S. to open up its own labs for investigation.
On Sunday the state-owned newspaper said Biden’s investigation was entirely political, and predicted the team would likely ‘produce a slanderous report that is in line with the US’ anti-China campaign’.
They wrote: ‘The US government is full of arrogance and disrespects the first-phase work report of the WHO expert group.’
The World Health Organization (WHO) visited Wuhan in late January, but their report only served to raise more questions after Beijing strictly controlled an on-site visit and who the researchers compiling the report spoke to.
The WHO team was only allowed three hours inside the Wuhan lab and was unable to examine any of the Wuhan institute’s safety logs or records of testing on its staff.
Guards stand outside the Wuhan lab in February, during the visit of the WHO. The head of the WHO later said that their report was inconclusive, and all options remined on the table
Even Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said that the visit was inconclusive, adding that ‘all hypotheses are open’ and warranted future study.
The authors, however, attacked on Sunday ‘the strong and tyrannical demand that the WHO should serve the political interests of the US.’
They added: ‘This is playing political games to hijack science.’
China accused scientists who give the ‘lab leak’ theory credibility of ‘trimming their sails according to the political circumstances’.
‘The presumption of guilt imposed by the US against the Wuhan Institute of Virology has gone in opposite directions with the conventional cognition and normal traceability methods of the scientific community,’ they said.
The op ed pointed out that the U.S. intelligence community was catastrophically wrong on the issue of WMD in the early 2000s, insisting that the country’s leaders ‘have lost their credibility at the very beginning of this race’.
‘It will be difficult for the US to do what it did 18 years ago when Washington fabricated evidence of Iraq possessing WMDs to fool the international community,’ they write.
‘So far, the US intelligence agencies can ask only the US media to help spread those rumors anonymously because they do not have any real proof that can be shared with the whole world. This traditional strategy of a frame-up is powerless in today’s environment.
Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial that he described as one that could contain anthrax during his presentation on Iraq to the UN Security Council in New York, in February 2003. His remarks were designed to drum up support for the invasion of Iraq
‘Washington is too arrogant to realize that its vicious accusations against China have become a political gamble for itself.
‘It has staked too many bargaining chips on credit from international morality. It actually has no way to back down from this dangerous status.
‘The US could meet its Waterloo in this battle: It might lose its credibility by abusing its soft power.’