china-criticizes-us-ahead-of-covid-origins-report,-peddles-conspiracy-theories

Chinese state-owned media has pushed aggressive claims of U.S. “propaganda” aimed to “scapegoat” the communist nation ahead of a report by American intelligence agencies into the origins of COVID-19. 

Efforts to uncover more information about how the virus first spread continue to face difficulties as the Chinese government maintains a tight grip on lab records, genomic samples and other data that could shed light on the pandemic. It has also been spreading misinformation about the United States.

Initial reports were “inconclusive” on the origins of the pandemic, The Washington Post reported this week. However, the Chinese government proceeded to push out claims that the report and any subsequent revelations are part of “propaganda” by the U.S. government. 

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“Scapegoating China cannot whitewash the US,” Fu Cong, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ arms control department, said during a news briefing on Wednesday. 

State-owned news outlet China Global Television Network (CGTN), based in Beijing, on Wednesday published a number of articles that aimed to paint the U.S. as desperate to “scapegoat” China while simultaneously pushing conspiracy theories that COVID-19 instead originated at labs in the U.S. 

China has repeatedly speculated that the U.S. leaked the virus, pointing to Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina labs as possible sources of COVID. Fort Detrick is a military installation that contains biomedical labs that research viruses including Ebola and smallpox. 

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CGTN published a headline arguing that the U.S. “should” invite the World Health Organization to investigate the labs, while another article outright labeled the U.S. probe into COVID-19 origins “propaganda against China.” 

Yet another headline from the “First Voice” daily column pre-empted the report by claiming that “U.S. spies are wrong about many things, including COVID-19.” 

“The United States says it lacks information from China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily news conference on Wednesday. “I can tell the United States that this is just an excuse to cover up the failure of its intelligence in origin tracing.”

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The U.S. report aims to resolve disputes between intelligence agencies over the various theories about the origins of the virus, including the “lab leak” theory that was initially dismissed by critics in the early days of the pandemic. 

A joint WHO-Chinese delegation previously visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology as part of an investigation, but some members of the team expressed frustration at the lack of access to vital materials. 

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President Biden had ordered the subsequent investigation after intelligence agencies “coalesced around two likely scenarios: Two agencies leaned toward the theory that the virus emerged from human contact with an infected animal, while a third agency supported the lab leak theory,” the Post reported.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday Biden received a classified briefing on the report the previous day, and the intelligence community has been working on an unclassified summary for public release.

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