US President Joe Biden’s call for a new investigation into the origins of the coronavirus sounds like déjà vu in Beijing.
Just over a year ago, when Covid-19 infections were on the rise in the United States, former President Donald Trump began promoting a marginal theory that the virus had escaped from lab to lab. Wuhan, the Chinese city where it was first detected. Beijing reacted angrily to the claim, accusing Trump of attempting to scapegoat China for its own failure to contain the epidemic domestically.
This week, a previously undisclosed intelligence report surfaced claiming that several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and required hospitalization. Under increasing public pressure, Biden ordered the intelligence community to step up efforts to reexamine the origin of the virus, including the possibility that it resulted from a lab accident.
Understandably, this drew Beijing’s ire – again – and prompted it to renew an anti-conspiracy theory that the virus actually started in the United States.
“The United States doesn’t care at all about facts or truth, nor is it interested in serious scientific study of origins. Its only goal is to use the pandemic for stigma and political manipulation to blame it, ”Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Zhao then referred to Fort Detrick, a US Army biomedical research lab in Maryland that has been linked – without evidence – to the emergence of the virus by Chinese officials and state media.
“What secrets are hidden in suspicion-covered Fort Detrick and in the more than 200 US biological laboratories around the world? Zhao said, adding that the United States “owes the world an explanation.”