Pretoria – Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong on Monday lambasted the inconclusive report released by the United States intelligence services which were assigned three months ago by US President Joe Biden to probe the origins of Covid-19.
The recently declassified report states in part that: “All agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident”.
The report was compiled by the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence, incorporating input from Washington’s 18 intelligence agencies.
Following the report, Biden has lambasted China, saying the Asian giant “continues to reject calls for transparency and [to] withhold information”. The US remarks have annoyed Beijing authorities, reigniting the diplomatic row between the economic powerhouses.
Hitting back, the Chinese embassy in Pretoria on Monday said the US government is on a slanderous campaign.
“The US spared no effort to hype up the so-called Wuhan lab leak, and slander that China withholds information refuses to cooperate and obstructs international investigation. These US slanders have no grounds. The US side is blatantly telling lies,” said Chen at a media briefing attended virtually by local and international media.
“The Chinese side opposes and condemns such moves. It is inherently anti-science for politicians and the intelligence community to trace the origins of viruses.” He said the US intelligence report has nothing new in pinning the blame on China.
“What the US has done is a witch-hunt that only looks for excuses in favour of their verdict, and that presumes China to be guilty,” said Chen.
“In doing so, the US does not respect science. They fail to own up for the loss of lives. And they undermined global solidarity against the virus. Covid origin is a major issue of science that scientists around the world, including China and South Africa, are studying very hard.”
The Chinese envoy insisted that the Wuhan lab leak theory is punctuated with loopholes.
“It is a complete fabrication. The P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is a China-France government project. It strictly follows international standards all the way from design, construction to management. There are strict protective facilities and measures, and the lab has been operating safely and stably since it opened in 2018,” said Chen.
He said the local government in China got the first Covid-19 report on December 27 in 2019.
“They got test samples of the first batch of Covid patients on the 30th. Before that, the WIV had never accessed, stored, or studied the virus whatsoever. The institute has never designed or manufactured the virus, not to mention to leak it. It has never conducted any coronavirus gain-of-function research,” said Chen.
He said even until now, not a single staff member of the WIV contracted the virus.
In March, a World Health Organisation team consisting of 34 experts from China and other parts of the world did a 28-day study in Wuhan, and the WHO officially released a joint WHO-China study on Covid-19 origins.
“The study concluded that a lab leak is extremely unlikely. This has become the general consensus of the international academic community,” said Chen.
He said China has so far twice invited WHO in July last year and in March this year for origin-tracing in China.
“During the trips, the Chinese side made every effort to organise and coordinate among relevant departments to meet the requirements of WHO experts on their visit. A number of experts on the team said that they visited all the places they wanted to visit, and met with everyone they wanted to meet,” said Chen.
The Chinese envoy said ironically, with the most advanced medical equipment and capabilities in the world, the US has seen 38 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, and nearly 630,000 American lives have been lost to the virus.
“US number of newly confirmed cases daily still ranks the highest in the world. With only 4 percent of the world population, the US accounts for a staggering 18 percent of global positive cases,” said Chen.
He said in reality, the US and its allies have often blamed and created troubles for each other in their Covid-19 responses.
“The US also used ridiculous tricks to intercept its allies’ response supplies and hoarded staggering amounts of vaccines. Smearing China will not clear the name for the US,” said Chen.
“In order to divert the world from blaming the US for its terrible response, the US has constantly put out bizarre arguments as “holding China accountable”, “China needs to pay for it” and “the lab leak in China”. In essence, they do all this only to cover up their own failed response. They plant evidence against China so as to serve their own selfish interests.”