China Takes on New Rhetoric to Blame the US for Pandemic

China Takes on New Rhetoric to Blame the US for Pandemic
People wearing masks wait next to their suitcases at the Beijing railway station in Beijing on Jan. 27, 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)
Frank Fang

Beijing has again peddled the unproven theory that the CCP virus may have originated in the United States.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, said at a daily briefing on Jan. 18 that the U.S. government should invite experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) to “conduct origin-tracing” in the United States, implying that the source of the virus could be in the United States.

She also called on U.S. politicians “to respect science” and “stop shifting the blame” so there would be international cooperation on combating the virus.

Hua made the remarks while criticizing a fact sheet recently released by the U.S. State Department, which stated that the Chinese Communist Party “has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin, choosing instead to devote enormous resources to deceit and disinformation.”
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. It originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan but researchers worldwide are still unclear on exactly when and how the virus first emerged.

According to the fact sheet, several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with COVID-19-like symptoms in the autumn of 2019, contradicting a claim by a researcher at the institute who said there was “zero infection” among lab staff and students.

“Any credible investigation into the origin of COVID-19 demands complete, transparent access to the research labs in Wuhan, including their facilities, samples, personnel, and records,” according to the fact sheet.

Hua denied the claims in the fact sheet and insisted that China was cooperating with virus origin investigations. She also suggested that U.S. labs should be open to WHO investigations.

In early 2020, U.S. experts were continually denied access to Wuhan to conduct research.

The Chinese regime rarely admits its own mistakes and often attributes internal crises to the doing of “foreign forces” in an effort to rally Chinese people around the Party’s rule.

Hua’s statement was not the first time that Beijing tried to attribute the virus’s origin to the United States. Another Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, suggested that it was the U.S. military who “brought the epidemic to Wuhan” via Twitter in March 2020.

The CCP also tried to pin the blame on Italy. In late 2020, Chinese state-run media claimed the virus spreading around the world was “a kind of variant mutating in north Italy,” quoting Alexander Kekulé, director of the Institute for Biosecurity Research in Germany.

In an email interview with Indian newspaper Hindustan Times last month, Kekulé stated that his words were taken out of context from his book and his interview with German television.

“The origin of the virus in China is described in detail in my book, and also the Chinese efforts to conceal the magnitude of the outbreak at the beginning. I never stated that the virus originally came from Italy, this is pure propaganda,” he wrote to the Indian outlet.

India was also the target of China’s blame game. China’s state-run media Global Times published a story on Nov. 29 last year saying that the earliest human-to-human transmission occurred in the “Indian subcontinent,” several months before the outbreak in Wuhan, quoting from a Chinese study that was not yet peer-reviewed.

The Chinese study, titled “The early cryptic transmission and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in human hosts,” was conducted by three researchers, one of them affiliated with the state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences. The study, which first appeared on the research paper website SSRN in November last year, was later retracted.

Currently, a team of WHO experts is in Wuhan, waiting for their mandatory quarantine period to come to end before they start work on the ground to investigate the origin of the virus. They arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 14.

On Monday, Garrett Grigsby, director of the office of global affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the WHO’s Executive Board that the expert team should have access to “care givers, former patients, and lab workers” in Wuhan, according to Reuters.
“We have a solemn duty to ensure that this critical investigation is credible and is conducted objectively and transparently,” he added. 
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.