Speaking to reporters at the White House, Biden was asked, “Have you had the chance to ask him [Xi] if these reports are true, that China maybe misled the world at the beginning?”
“I have not had that conversation with President Xi,” the president responded.
Biden’s comment calls into question how hard his administration will push China to be transparent about COVID-19, especially since Biden and Xi have had a relationship that dates back years.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was elusive when he was asked whether Washington would hold Beijing accountable for how it handled the pandemic.
On March 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report concluding that the CCP virus having leaked from a lab was “extremely unlikely,” reinforcing the Beijing regime’s longstanding denial that its Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the pandemic. The report was based on the findings of a team of Chinese and foreign experts who had visited Wuhan—the Chinese city where the first coronavirus cases were discovered—earlier this year.
Many have pointed to the Wuhan lab as the possible source of the virus, including former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield. In January, the U.S. State Department released a fact sheet stating that it “had reason to believe” several researchers at the institute fell ill with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses in the autumn of 2019.
Meanwhile, the report also didn’t refute another Beijing claim, saying it was “possible” the virus originated from contaminated “cold-chain” food. China has said it suspected frozen food imports could be contaminated with the virus.
The report has since been heavily criticized. On March 30, 14 nations including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement questioning the report, while calling for a “transparent and independent analysis and evaluation.”
Several U.S. lawmakers also criticized the report as biased.
“The World Health Organization’s report is nothing more than a product of China’s propaganda machine,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said in a statement.
“From the onset of this investigation, the Chinese Communist Party was given permission by the WHO to manipulate the report’s data, exclude American scientists, and produce the report’s final conclusions. This is a blatant attempt by China to alter reality and hide the truth.”
Fabian Leendertz, a veterinarian and microbiologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Germany and one of the experts that went to Wuhan for the fact-finding mission, told Science Magazine that the report “was a compromise” between experts.
“And in a compromise, you have to respect the other’s views,” Leendertz stated.
Wuhan resident Zhang Hai told Radio Free Asia on March 31 that the Chinese authorities should stop claiming that the virus originated from imported frozen food packages. Zhang is known for having filed a lawsuit against the Wuhan municipal government seeking compensation for his late father, who died of COVID-19 in February last year.
“If it did come to China in frozen food, then why wasn’t there an outbreak overseas first? Why did the outbreak happen in China?” Zhang said.
“Now such an important question has become embroiled in the bureaucracy of the WHO, and now it hasn’t been properly investigated,” he said, adding that the WHO has become a puppet of the Chinese regime.