The US Intelligence report on COVID-19 origins is fundamentally deceptive

By Cong Peiwu, Chinese Ambassador to Canada

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence of the United States recently released a summary of the intelligence community assessment on COVID-19 origins, which does not rule out either natural exposure or laboratory accident as the origin of SARS-CoV-2. The report wrongly claims that China "continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries". The statement by the White House issued on the same day also purported that China tries to hold back international investigation and rejects calls for transparency. It urges like-minded partners to exert pressure on China. The Chinese side expresses its firm opposition to this.

I. Why do we need science-based origins tracing?

Viruses are the common enemy of mankind. Tracing the origin is a major, complex and serious issue of science that requires the collaboration of scientists around the world, as well as the joint efforts and cooperation of governments. Searching for the origins of any novel pathogen is a difficult process, which is based on science, and takes collaboration, dedication and time. It should be undertaken by scientists to clearly study the origins of the virus and identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, so as to better prepare for future risks. The truth will be uncovered only when origins tracing is unswervingly carried out in a scientific approach by scientists, who uphold a responsible attitude and undertake the task with science-based facts.

II. Why do we say that the US is engaged in politicizing origins tracing?

The deployment of the intelligence community in origins tracing is in itself a compelling evidence of the politicization of the issue. It is a mendacious report made up for political purposes. There is no scientific basis or credibility in it. This report will do nothing but interfere with and undermine international origins tracing and global cooperation against the pandemic.

The US accuses China of not being transparent or cooperative on origins tracing. This is sheer nonsense. China attaches great importance to international scientific cooperation on origins tracing, and has taken an active part in such cooperation. Acting on the principles of science, openness and transparency, we have twice invited WHO experts to China for origins tracing research. Early this year, a WHO-China joint study team of leading international and Chinese experts conducted a 28-day research in China and released a Joint Report containing authoritative, professional and science-based conclusions. This is a good foundation for international cooperation on origins tracing.

The US is the country with the highest number of infections and deaths in the world, and the worst outward spread of the virus. The US attempts to politicize origins tracing have found no support and met widespread opposition from the international community: More than 80 countries have written to the WHO Director-General, issued statements, or sent diplomatic notes to voice their objection to the politicization attempts and call for the Joint Report by the WHO-China joint study team to be upheld; over 300 political parties, social organizations and think tanks from more than 100 countries and regions have submitted a joint statement to the WHO Secretariat on opposing the politicization of origins tracing. These are people's calls for justice.

III. How can we truly promote the science-based tracing of origins?

The US was the first to start research in recombinant virus and possesses unrivalled strength in this area. And Fort Detrick and other labs have the worst safety records. The US has been refusing to respond to the international community's reasonable doubts on the Fort Detrick biolab and the over 200 overseas bases for biological experiments, trying to cover up the truth and avoid being held responsible. The onus is on the US to give the world an answer.

China has been supporting and will continue to participate in the science-based origins tracing. The Chinese side hopes that the US will immediately stop doing anything that poisons the atmosphere for international cooperation on origins tracing or undermines global solidarity against the pandemic, and return to the right track of science-based origins tracing and cooperation in the face of the pandemic, and work with the international community to make due contributions to defeating the virus and protecting people’s health and well-being.

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