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China State Media Calls Wuhan Lab Leak Theory 'Pathetic Story'

Newsweek logo Newsweek 6 days ago John Feng

China's Global Times tabloid claimed a U.S. national laboratory report cited in an article by the Wall Street Journal offers no new evidence regarding the origins of COVID, describing the study as a "pathetic story."

The nationalistic newspaper published a short rebuttal on its website on Tuesday, in the hours following the Journal's reporting into the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory study dated last May.

a bench in front of a building: The Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei, China, as members of the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of COVID-19 make a visit on February 3, 2021. © HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images The Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei, China, as members of the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of COVID-19 make a visit on February 3, 2021.

The study by the federal research laboratory in California was among the first government efforts to seriously consider the possibility that the coronavirus had accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China's central Hubei province, according to the article.

The national lab concluded that the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from the Wuhan facility was "plausible and deserves further investigation," the Journal's report added, saying that the research also influenced the Trump State Department's subsequent investigations into the so-called "lab leak" theory.

A flurry of recent reports has shed light on fresh efforts by the Biden administration to trace the origins of the disease, which has claimed nearly 600,000 American lives. Of particular interest is the lab leak theory, which, while controversial, has yet to be conclusively ruled out.

The Chinese government cried foul after President Joe Biden said late last month that he had ordered the U.S. intelligence community to reinvestigate the coronavirus's origins. Beijing has described the process as a "smear campaign."

The Global Times, which publishes some of the China's strongest rhetoric, called the Lawrence Livermore study a conspiracy.

"[S]ome politicians and so-called scientists are grasping for any pathetic story to push their political agenda," it said in an exclusive interview with a person with knowledge of the WHO-China origin-tracing efforts conducted earlier this year.

"It is a fresh move for the US media, without providing any new data or evidence, according to the source close to the WHO team, trying to turn the scientific question into a pure political game," the newspaper added.

"The thing about this report is that even if it contained any new information, it is not possible to share it publicly, so it doesn't help at all," the Global Times source was quoted as saying about the U.S. national lab study.

The tabloid—run under the auspices of the Communist Party of China—also attempted to dismiss a U.S. intelligence report that found three staff members at the Wuhan lab had fallen ill with coronavirus-like symptoms in November 2019.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told Axios that Beijing provided no transparency, access or real-time information to the international community during global efforts to better understand the beginnings of the pandemic.

"The most important reason we have to get to the bottom of this is, that's the only way we're going to be able to prevent the next pandemic, or at least do a better job in mitigating it," Blinken said. "The international community has to have access and information."

"It's profoundly in China's interest to do this as well," he added. "Especially if it purports to be a responsible international actor—to do everything it can, to provide all the information it has, to make sure we can hopefully prevent this from happening again."

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry, responded on Monday by referring to the WHO-China origin-tracing report released in March. A team of experts that was given access to the suspected epicenter in Wuhan concluded that it was "extremely unlikely" the virus had originated from a Chinese laboratory.

"We urge the United States to stop politicizing origin tracing, stop smearing China, adopt an open and transparent attitude on this issue, shoulder its due responsibilities and invite WHO experts for origin tracing in the U.S.," Wang said, repeating Beijing's insistence that American laboratories should also be scrutinized.

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