Thursday May 27, 2021
China outraged by investigation into virus origin
Shortly after it became known that US President Joe Biden had hired secret services to search for the origin of the coronavirus, China reacted indignantly and spoke of a “conspiracy theory”. With the investigations, another possible laboratory accident in Wuhan is up for debate.
China has responded with violent protest to the announcement by US President Joe Biden that American intelligence services will be tasked with investigating the origin of the corona pandemic. China spoke of a “conspiracy theory”. “The smear campaign and the finger pointing are returning,” said a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.
“Politicizing the search for the origin – a matter of science – will not only make it harder to find the origin of the virus, but also give free rein to the ‘political virus’ and seriously hamper international cooperation in the pandemic.”
The previous investigations into the pandemic have provided different assessments without conclusive conclusions, Biden said in a written statement earlier. Therefore, he had instructed the secret services to intensify their efforts and to submit a further report within 90 days. Biden revealed that the scenario of a possible laboratory accident in China – an accusation that his predecessor Donald Trump had loudly spread – is believed to be possible, at least in parts of the US intelligence apparatus.
China denies various theories
The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. For a long time there have been unsubstantiated suspicions that it could have come from a laboratory there and was released in an accident. Trump and his Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo had repeatedly claimed that they had evidence that the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan. Trump had said that a “terrible mistake” might have occurred: “It was probably incompetence, someone was stupid.” However, neither he nor members of his government presented evidence.
China supports a comprehensive study of all early Covid-19 cases worldwide and an investigation into “some secret bases and biological laboratories around the world,” the spokesman said. He was possibly alluding to unproven hypotheses from Beijing that the virus originated in a US military laboratory in Fort Detrick or elsewhere and was brought into Wuhan by participants in the World Military Games in October. China had previously denied a report in the “Wall Street Journal” that three scientists from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan fell so seriously ill in November 2019 that they had to be hospitalized. Coronavirus research was carried out at the institute.
Biden pushes the search for answers
Biden’s government had previously requested further investigation. However, Biden is now giving space to the laboratory accident thesis and is pushing the search for answers. Biden said he had commissioned an intelligence report back in March – including the question of whether the virus could have come about through human contact with an infected animal or through a laboratory accident. He now has this report. There are different assessments within the secret service apparatus. The services should now collect more information “that could move us closer to a final conclusion”.
This cautious formulation also leaves open the possibility that there may never be definitive answers. Biden complained that in the first months of the pandemic – so still under Trump – US inspectors had no access on site. This will “always hinder any investigation”. The US secret services announced in April of last year that they “agreed with the broad scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not made by humans or genetically modified”. But they also announced that they would examine new findings.
There are also great international efforts to find out how the pandemic started. The World Health Organization (WHO) suspects that the virus could have its origin in pangolins as well as in bats. The theory that it could have escaped from a laboratory, however, is “extremely unlikely”. However, the US questioned the quality of this study. They accused China of unduly influencing the international experts involved.