- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Peoples Republic of China lashed out against the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday, calling the lawmaker’s newly released report that COVID-19 first leaked from a Chinese laboratory “despicable” and politically motivated.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the report by Rep. Michael T. McCaul of Texas is “totally based on the concocted lies and distorted facts without providing any evidence, [and] is not credible or scientific.”

“What the relevant U.S. congressmen have done smears and slanders China in pursuit of political gains,” the ministry said. “We express categorical opposition to and strong condemnation of such despicable acts that have no moral bottom line.”

Mr. McCaul said in a report Monday that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in August or early September 2019 and that Chinese officials took part in “the greatest coverup of all time.”

The lawmaker said in response to China‘s statement, “If the CCP wants to prove my report wrong, they should release the WIV’s full database of viruses they took offline on September 12th of 2019. Until then, I take their baseless attacks against this report as further proof of their deception.”

The evidence, provided in an update of Mr. McCaul‘s report in September on the origins of COVID-19, suggests SARS-CoV-2, which had been genetically manipulated, was released from the laboratory accidentally, according to the report’s authors.

In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson restated previous claims by the PRC that the virus may have originated in the U.S.

“If these U.S. congressmen do have a sense of responsibility, even a tinge of it, for their own people, they should urge the U.S. government to release at the earliest the medical records of those infected in the unexplained outbreaks of respiratory disease in Virginia and … in Wisconsin and Maryland in 2019, and of U.S/ military personnel who fell ill during the Military World Games in Wuhan, and to allow a thorough international probe into Fort Detrick lab and the 200-plus U.S. biological labs overseas,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also called into question U.S. credibility, alluding to U.N. testimony in which U.S. officials claimed that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction leading up to the Iraq War.

“In 2003, the U.S. side used a test tube of laundry powder as evidence for Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction,” the spokesperson said. “One needs not look far for a lesson, and the international community should not let such a thing happen again.”

Mr. McCaul‘s report concludes that WIV researchers and Chinese officials worked to suppress information related to the investigation into the virus’ origins and “suppress public debate of a possible lab leak.”

Mr. McCaul‘s report also points to the lengths the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization  went to cover up the outbreak early on. The Communist Party detained doctors and journalists, destroyed lab samples, and barred a full-scale probe into the origins by international investigators.

“This was the greatest coverup of all time and has caused the deaths of more than four million people around the world, and people must be held responsible,” Mr. McCaul said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the China-WHO “joint expert team” conducted an open and transparent investigation in February, which included “in-depth and candid exchanges with experts from” the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and said that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely.”

“It must be pointed out that the U.S. side’s political manipulation of origins tracing has drawn overwhelming rejection from the international community,” the spokesperson said. “As of now, 70 countries have voiced opposition to politicizing origins tracing and emphasized the importance of upholding the joint China-WHO study report via sending letters to the WHO Director-General and issuing statements. It shows that clear-eyed people over the world can tell right and wrong.”

President Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies in May to speed up their investigation into the origins of the virus and to report back within 90 days. He ordered intelligence agencies to investigate “whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.” 

He said at the time that those agencies “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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