Extracts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Regular Press Conference
Global Times: It’s reported that the US experts on the coronavirus origins task force of the authoritative medical journal the Lancet are under “threat”, and the chair of the task force is even “pressured” to ask the experts on the task force to renounce the”bat-spillover” theory, which is underpinned by ample scientific evidence, and turn to support the “lab leak” theory. Some experts may have to resign to uphold their scientific positions. What is the foreign ministry’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: I have also taken note of this. I have also noted that the US side has called for termination of the scientific research on early cases of COVID-19 in the US, which it deems at odds with its interests. This once again exposes that the US, while claiming to seek science-based origin tracing, is actually engaging in political manipulation under the pretext of the epidemic. While it says it wants to prevent another outbreak, what’s really on its mind is just to shift the blame to China.
Origin tracing is a serious scientific matter that requires international cooperation by scientists across the globe. However, for some time, some in the US have been clamoring for intelligence-led investigation in disregard of science and facts. Now they intend to use sinister ploy on the international scientific community to force scientists to bow in the face of their hegemony, bullying and coercion. This violates the spirit of science, undermines global cooperation in origin tracing, challenges and defiles human justice. The US practice of politicization is immoral and unpopular, and will eventually end up in failure.
We once again urge the US side to immediately stop its political manipulation on the origin tracing issue, and stop playing dirty tricks on the scientific community. It should adopt a scientific and transparent attitude to invite WHO experts for origin tracing study in the US, and provide a responsible account of the real situation at Fort Detrick and the more than 200 bio labs it runs all around the world.
Beijing Daily: It is reported that Dr. Danielle Anderson, a former Assistant Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School who once worked in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said that she’s dumbfounded by the portrayal of the lab by some media outside China, and the toxic attacks on scientists that have ensued. Anderson is convinced no virus was made intentionally to infect people and deliberately released. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China has repeatedly stressed that origin-tracing is a scientific matter that should not be politicized. Many scientists in the international community who uphold science, reason and objectivity, including Dr. Anderson, have expressed unequivocal opposition to politicizing the origin-tracing by some in the US.
Dr. Anderson also said that there were strict protocols and requirements at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and entering and exiting the facility was a carefully choreographed endeavor. Responding to the Wall Street Journal report which claimed three researchers from the lab were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms in November 2019, she said no one she knew at the Wuhan institute was ill toward the end of 2019.
Besides, we also saw reports that Massimo Galli, head of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Milan-affiliated Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan, Italy, said at a committee for social affairs of the Chamber of Deputies that the coronavirus is an unknown virus with no signs of genome engineering inside and the “lab-leak” theory has no scientific basis at all. Galli and three other Italian experts — Massimo Ciccozzi from the University of Biomedical Campus in Rome, Fausto Baldanti, head of the virus research lab at the Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia, and Giuseppe Ippolito, an expert at the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases — believe that the virus is 99% likely to be the result of natural spillover.
Facts have proved time and again that the accusation of “Wuhan laboratory leaking the novel coronavirus” that some people in the US are clamoring for has no factual basis. We once again urge the US to respect facts and science, immediately stop politicizing origin-tracing, give a responsible explanation as soon as possible on the international community’s concern about Fort Detrick and its over 200 bio labs around the world, and invite WHO experts to the US to carry out origin-tracing study at an early date.