1 April
Written by John Haltiwanger

China on Wednesday accused the US of “political manipulation” as Beijing faces criticism over a World Health Organization report on the origins of COVID-19.

“We have repeatedly emphasized that origin tracing is a scientific issue, and it should be carried out cooperatively by global scientists and cannot be politicized, which is also the consensus of most countries,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said during a briefing, per CNN.

“The politicization of origin tracing is extremely immoral and unpopular, which only hinders global cooperation and [the] global fight against the virus,” Hua said, accusing countries like the US of disrespecting science and “political manipulation.”

After the release of the WHO report, the US and 13 other governments issued a joint statement expressing concerns regarding lack of “access to complete, original data and samples.”

“It is critical for independent experts to have full access to all pertinent human, animal, and environmental data, research, and personnel involved in the early stages of the outbreak relevant to determining how this pandemic emerged,” the statement said. “With all data in hand, the international community may independently assess COVID-19 origins, learn valuable lessons from this pandemic, and prevent future devastating consequences from outbreaks of disease.”

The WHO report, released on Tuesday, listed the possible origins of COVID-19. It said the virus likely jumped from bats to humans via another animal. At a press conference on Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he does “not believe that this assessment was extensive enough.”

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki discussed the report at Tuesday’s press briefing, saying that President Joe Biden “believes the American people, the global community, the medical experts, the doctors — all of the people who have been working to save lives, the families who have lost loved ones — all deserve greater transparency.”

“They deserve better information. They deserve steps that are taken by the global community to provide that,” Psaki added. “The report lacks crucial data, information, and access. It represents a partial and incomplete picture.”

China has frequently been criticized by the US and its allies over a lack of transparency surrounding COVID-19, which was first detected in Wuhan, China. Along these lines, then-President Donald Trump accused the WHO of being too subservient to Beijing and announced he was pulling the US from the UN health agency. But in one of his first executive orders as president, Biden reversed Trump’s move to withdraw from the WHO.