Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to President Joe Biden, told Fox News on Sunday that the United States and its key allies were intentionally pressuring China ahead of the next phase of the World Health Organization’s investigation .
“The relevant remarks of the United States are pure blackmail and a threat. China deplores them, rejects them and will never accept them, ”Beijing Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.
Zhao said China has already made “positive contributions” to global efforts to find the source of the coronavirus by twice receiving WHO experts in the country.
He was referring to two WHO missions last July and January, respectively. The first ended without meaningful access to key areas, including the suspected Wuhan epicenter, while the second field investigation – conducted more than a year after the outbreak began – resulted in a report joint WHO-China, who concluded that the controversial “lab leak” theory was “extremely unlikely”.
Zhao, speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing, said there was “no reason” to accuse China of “saying no” to origin research studies. The Chinese official called Sullivan’s comments “inflammatory and sensational.”
China has fiercely denied any links between SARS-CoV-2 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology since key members of the Trump administration, including former Secretary Mike Pompeo, accused Chinese officials of covering up a laboratory accident. More recently, however, China has gone on the offensive, turning the same accusations against the United States.
Zhao accused the United States of politicizing efforts to trace the origins of the coronavirus in order to distract from its own poor response to the pandemic, which has claimed more than 600,000 American lives. He also advised WHO experts to review US biosecurity operations at Fort Detrick.
During his appearance on Fox, Sullivan praised President Biden’s recent efforts in Europe, where key allies have aligned with the United States to take an unprecedented hard line on China’s policies in several areas.
At the G7, leaders also collectively pushed Beijing to cooperate with future WHO efforts to trace the origins of COVID-19.
“What Joe Biden has done in Europe this week is rally the Democratic world to speak with a united voice on this issue for the first time since the outbreak of COVID,” the White House aide said . “President Trump couldn’t do it. President Biden was. He got the G7 to approve a statement saying in unison that China must allow an investigation to take place on its territory. “
“It is this diplomatic catch-up work – rallying the nations of the world, imposing political and diplomatic pressure on China – that is at the heart of the effort we are undertaking to finally face China with a difficult choice: either they will, in a responsible way, investigators have to do the real job of determining where this is coming from, or they will face isolation from the international community, ”Sullivan added.
On May 26, Biden said he had given the U.S. intelligence community 90 days to examine all available evidence regarding the origins of COVID-19, with a view to compiling a new report that could provide the government with a more definitive answer. as to whether the virus had natural or man-made origins.
Sullivan concluded: “The President reserves the right, through our own analysis, the efforts of our own intelligence community that he has led, and through other work that we will do with our allies and partners, to continue to lobby on all fronts until we get to the bottom of how this virus came into the world. “
Following Biden’s announcement last month, the Chinese Embassy in Washington denounced it as a “smear campaign.”