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Chinese FM Spokesperson: China Always Supports Tracing of Origin in a Scientific Manner and Opposes Politicizing of Origins Study

2021-07-23 10:18

At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on July 22, spokesperson Zhao Lijian answered a question about tracing of origin of the coronavirus.

Journalist: The Financial Times reported that scientists from two labs in Italy, including Milan's Istituto Nazionale Tumori, a cancer research centre, wrote in a new paper published on July 19, that retesting of a small number of pre-pandemic blood samples had indicated the presence of antibodies normally observed after coronavirus infections.On July 20, in response to the statement of "lab leak" from the Wuhan Institute of Virology by a Republican senator from Kentucky, Dr. Fauci shot back, "I totally resent that. And if anybody's lying here, senator, it is you." How do you comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: I'd like to share some information on the press conference about origin-tracing of COVID-19 held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO) this morning before I answer your question.

As to the WHO-China joint report, the Chinese side said that more and more scientific evidence shows that this report is a valuable and authoritative one that can stand the test of science and history. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has never designed, manufactured or leaked novel coronavirus, nor has it conducted any gain-of-function studies on coronavirus. So far, none of the staff and graduate students at the Wuhan Institute of Virology has contracted the novel coronavirus. As to the illness of miners in Mojiang County, Yunnan province, we did not detect bat coronavirus in the serum samples of the miners through nucleic acid, antibody and genome sequencing tests. This suggests that these cases are unrelated to COVID-19.

At the press conference, China once again clarified its position and attitude on the next phase of origin-tracing, that is, the work must be carried out in accordance with scientific principles and rules. China always supports the tracing of origin in a scientific manner and opposes politicizing of origins study. The second phase of origin-tracing should be extended on the basis of the first phase, guided by the relevant WHO resolutions, and carried out after full discussion and consultation among member states. The work that has already been done in the first phase should not be repeated, especially when a clear conclusion has been reached. Instead, we should promote origin-tracing on the basis of full and extensive consultations among member states, including search of early cases in various places and countries around the world.

With regard to your question, I want to stress that for some time, more and more reports have pointed to separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world in the latter half of the year 2019, and at least five states in the US alone had earlier COVID-19 infections before the first officially reported confirmed case. This again shows that origin-tracing of COVID-19 is a complex scientific matter, which calls for a global collaboration of scientists with a global perspective. However, what we can see is that some people in the US still ignore science and facts. Obsessed with political manipulation, they are hyping up the so-called "lab leakage theory", advocating intelligence-led origins study, suppressing and threatening experts and scholars who are making an objective and rational voice, in an attempt to shift responsibility for their botched epidemic response by discrediting other countries. Some individuals in the US put politics above science and selfish political gain above people's lives and health, which in large part accounts for the poor epidemic response.

On the issue of origin-tracing, some people in the United States may indeed have a guilty conscience. In June, Vanity Fair revealed an internal warning from the U.S. government against an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus that could open a can of worms. In fact, the US has remained silent on the serious concerns raised by the international community about Fort Detrick and the more than 200 biological laboratories overseas. The US side must understand that the international community, including China, has every reason to raise questions about Fort Detrick, which has a poor track record and is notorious for breaches in lab and contaminant leak, and demand clarification and explanation from the US side and call on the WHO to conduct a thorough investigation into it. This requirement is not only for tracing the source of COVID-19, but also for the safety of people in all countries. The questioning will not end until the US side gives a reasonable explanation.

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