Extracts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Regular Press Conference
NPR: US President Biden yesterday ordered an intelligence report to look into whether the novel coronavirus began from an infected animal or potentially from a Chinese laboratory. Do you have any comment about this new report commission?
Zhao Lijian: I note relevant reports.
I also noticed that President Biden said that “the United States will keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation”. Yesterday I shared China’s efforts in support of WHO’s global study of the origins of COVID-19. On the China lab leak hypothesis, the joint WHO-China study team report clearly states that “a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely”. This is an authoratative and official conclusion based on science. International experts on the joint team spoke highly of China’s openness and transparency on different occasions.
However, some in the US, turning a blind eye to facts, science, the questionable study of origins and botched response at home, kept clamoring for additional investigation in China. This shows that they don’t care about facts or truth and have zero interest in a serious science-based study of origins. Their one aim is to use the pandemic to pursue stigmatization and political manipulation to shift the blame. They are being disrespectful to science, irresponsible to people’s lives, and counter-productive to concerted global efforts to fight the virus. With 33 million confirmed cases and 600,000 deaths from COVID-19, both the highest in the world, the US, instead of examining its own behavior, attempted to scapegoat China. What are they up to? Can they sleep at night with a troubled conscience?
What secrets are hidden in the suspicion-shrouded Fort Detrick and the over 200 US bio-labs all over the world? In July 2019, there were reports on the unexplained outbreaks of respiratory disease in northern Virginia and on the subsequent EVALI outbreaks in Wisconsin. What’s hidden there? When will the US release detailed data and information on relevant cases? It owes an explanation to the world.
The US keeps saying that it wants “China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation”. Then we ask it to follow China’s example and immediately start science-based cooperation with WHO on study of origins, conduct a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation in the US, fully respond to international concerns, and contribute to mankind’s early victory over the pandemic and better preparedness in the face of future public health emergencies.
I would like to stress one final point. The motive and purpose of the US-driven “investigation” relying on its intelligence apparatus is crystal clear. In fact, US intelligence has a notorious track record, as the world has learned a long time ago. Its masterpieces include the test tube of laundry powder which was cited as evidence for weapons of mass destruction and the staged “White Helmets” video. Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even boasted, “I was the CIA director, we lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.” How can anyone trust the findings from an “investigation” conducted by such an intelligence organ with no credibility to speak of?
Bloomberg: I have three questions. One way for the virus controversy over its origins to be cleared that would be for China to provide all of the data about the coronavirus that scientists around the world want. I’m not speaking about the US here, but scientists around the world. Will China consider this option? If not, why not? Second question, Kurt Campbell, the White House top official for Asia, said the US is entering a period of intense competition with China. He said that “the period that was broadly described as engagement has come to an end … the dominant paradigm is going to be competition.” Does the foreign ministry have a comment on Kurt Campbell’s comments? Finally, I’m hoping you can clear some confusion about the trial of the Australian writer Yang Hengjun in Beijing. On the one hand, the court has told Australia’s ambassador Graham Fletcher that he wasn’t allowed in because of COVID measures, which he didn’t quite understand. At the same time, he apparently said that the foreign ministry told him that the trial was closed for national security issue. I wonder if you could clear the confusion here.
Zhao Lijian: I will first respond to Yang Jun’s case. We have made clear explanation on the case that it is about national security and involves national secrets. As I said just now, China firmly opposes Australia’s unjustifiable obstruction in China’s handling of the case in accordance with law and gross interference in China’s judicial sovereignty. China has lodged its solemn representation to the Australian side.
On your first question, as we repeatedly stated, from January 14 to February 10 this year, China responded to the request of the international experts on the joint mission in an open, transparent and cooperative manner by arranging field visits to different biosafety laboratories, including Wuhan Institute of Virology, and holding in-depth, candid and science-based discussions with experts from relevant laboratories. The experts went to every place they asked to see, and learned in detail of lab management, work specification and latest progress on virus research.
China has set a good example for the global origin-tracing effort. Now the question is whether the US has the confidence and willingness to invite international experts to Fort Detrick, as well as its more than 200 bio-labs all over the world. We hope that the US will follow China’s example, and cooperate with WHO in origin-tracing study with a science-based attitude so as to respond to the concerns of the international community.
On your second question, China and the US are two major countries that share broad-based, common interests in upholding world peace and stability and promoting world economic recovery and development. The two sides stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. It is only natural that China and the US experience some competition in their relationship, which is the case in any major-country relations. However, using “competition” define or dominate China-US ties is a total mistake that will only lead to confrontation and conflict. Even if there is competition, it should be sound competition that helps to reinforce each other and pursue common progress, rather than a vicious competition to beat each other. China firmly rejects US moves to exclude and contain China in the name of competition.
The US should follow the trend of the times, abandon the obsolete cold war and zero-sum game mentality, and view China in a objective and reasonable light. It should adopt a positive China policy, and work with China to enhance dialogue, manage differences and focus on cooperation, so as to move forward the bilateral relations along the track of sound and steady development.
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