Imran Khan grilled over stance on Muslim Uyghurs in China
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Chinese investigators carried out an investigation into the origins of the pandemic in February. They found no definitive proof Covid entered the human population and began spreading after escaping from a lab or after jumping to humans from infected animals. But Mr Biden’s US Government and other world leaders have called for an independent inquiry over concerns about the report’s data.
Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, warned China against blocking another investigation.
The aide told host Chris Wallace the Biden administration is looking to put “diplomatic pressure” on Beijing to allow more access for an inquiry.
He said: “It is that diplomatic spadework – rallying the nations of the world, imposing political and diplomatic pressure on China, that is a core part of the effort we are undertaking to ultimately face China with a stark choice.
“Either they will allow, in a responsible way, investigators in to do the real work of figuring out where this came from, or they will face isolation in the international community.”
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, also remarked on Monday China’s “lack of transparency” is concerning to the US.
Asked about Mr Sullivan’s comments, she told reporters: “Well, I would say that, as you know from covering the trip, last week there was a great deal of calibration around — in the global community, among the world’s largest democracies, the world’s most important security partners, about how we were going to work together to address the rising economic power of China and concerns where we have concerns, which — the lack of transparency is certainly one of them.
“So I think what the President and what Jake Sullivan were referring to is: The global community has taken notice, we’re going to work together to exercise the necessary pressure on China to be a participant and to provide transparent data and access in this case, and China wants to have a role in the global community and global conversations.
“And certainly, they would take note of that.”
After Mr Biden ordered the US intelligence community to increase efforts towards an inquiry on the origins of Covid, China lashed out against Washington.
Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said in May it is “extremely unlikely” the virus originated from a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, citing the WHO’s report.
He added: “[The US’s] one aim is to use the pandemic to pursue stigmatisation and political manipulation to shift the blame.
“They are being disrespectful to science, irresponsible to people’s lives, and counterproductive to concerted global efforts to fight the virus.”
Mr Zhao also lashed out at the US intelligence community for having a “notorious track record”.
UK scientists and SAGE committee members have also supported calls for another inquiry, with Professor Wendy Barclay saying lab leak theories cannot be ruled out.
She told MPs earlier in June when asked about lab leak theories: “I cannot exclude that possibility. But I would point out that we have instances of six other coronaviruses emerging into the human population where we don’t think that is the case.
“On the probability, I would say it’s much more likely, knowing where viruses are and live markets with animals mixed.”
COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019, with the WHO sharing news of the virus on January 4 2020.
Since then, 178,686,182 cases and 3,870,373 deaths have been recorded worldwide.
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