Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on June 13 that Beijing must work with further investigations into the origins of the CCP virus. He added that China’s failure to cooperate was one reason that the World Health Organization’s initial report didn’t go well.
“China has to cooperate with that,” Blinken told CBS’s “Face the Nation” of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) second phase of investigations. “Transparency, access for international experts, information sharing—that has to happen. And again, I think you’re seeing countries coming together to insist on that.”
Blinken said the initial report—a phase one study published by the WHO in March—“had real problems with it, not the least of which was China’s failure to cooperate.”
The report was based on findings by a WHO-led investigation team that conducted groundwork in the Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this year. Wuhan is where the first cluster of COVID-19 cases emerged, after which Chinese authorities linked these cases to a local wet market.
However, Beijing refused to provide raw data on the early COVID-19 cases to the investigation team. Meanwhile, critics have noted that the WHO investigation lacks independence, as some team members have ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The initial report adhered to Beijing’s preferred stances on the virus’s origin and concluded that the possibility of the virus originating from a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.” Beijing had pushed a natural zoonotic hypothesis—that the virus had transmitted to humans from an animal host.
China has a major biological research facility in Wuhan, called the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been doing research on bat coronaviruses for more than a decade. The facility is about a 30-minute drive from the wet market.
A January fact sheet released by the State Department and an undisclosed U.S. intelligence report first reported by The Wall Street Journal both state that there were sick individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in autumn 2019. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP virus.
On June 13, Group of Seven (G-7) leaders issued a joint statement calling for “a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China.”
Blinken said: “Coming out of this, we need a couple of things. We need to understand what happened. We need to get to the bottom of it. And we’re working on that through the WHO. We’re also working on that ourselves.”
Late last month, President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to probe the origins of the virus and produce a report to him within 90 days.
In a separate interview on June 13, Blinken told Fox News that G-7 leaders had agreed that Beijing’s cooperation is needed moving forward.
“The leaders of the G-7 have come together insisting that China cooperate with the so-called phase two study by the WHO to really get to the bottom of what happened,” Blinken said.
“We need to get to the bottom of what happened. We need accountability, but we also need to understand what happened, why it happened, how it happened if we’re going to be able to put in place the necessary measures to prevent it from happening again, or at least to be in a better place to mitigate the next pandemic if we can’t fully prevent one.”
WHO head Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the G-7 on June 12 also called on China to cooperate with the second phase of the WHO’s investigation.
“This is very tragic, and I think the respect these people [COVID-19 victims] deserve is knowing what the origin of this virus is so that we can prevent it from happening again,” he told a media briefing.
“We will need co-operation from the Chinese side,” he said. “We need transparency in order to find the origin of this virus.”