The Chinese embassy called for a World Health Organization investigation into a United States military lab more than 7,500 miles away from the first documented cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.
Chinese embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu responded to a Washington Free Beacon report on a Chinese propaganda campaign that claims the coronavirus leaked from a military lab in Fort Detrick, Md., saying the campaign not only reflects "serious concerns" but also warrants a full WHO investigation into the U.S. military installation.
"About Fort Detrick, the US has remained silent on the serious concerns raised by the international community, including US media," Liu told the Free Beacon. "The US side must understand that the international community has every reason to raise questions about Fort Detrick, which has a poor track record and is notorious for breaches in lab and contaminant leak, and demand clarification and explanation from the US side and call on the WHO to conduct a thorough investigation into it. This requirement is not only for tracing the origin of COVID-19, but also for the safety of people in all countries."
Liu's statement runs counter to mounting evidence that the coronavirus emerged from an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. According to an August congressional report, Chinese scientists had the capability to genetically manipulate coronaviruses "without leaving any trace of that modification" as early as 2016, and Beijing dispatched military officers to Wuhan in early 2020, suggesting a growing crisis in the city at the time. More than 600,000 Americans have died due to the coronavirus, and another 37 million have caught the disease.
The embassy spokesman said Beijing opposes "hyping" the Wuhan lab leak theory.
"This February, a China-WHO joint expert team visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology and had in-depth and candid exchanges with experts there," Liu said. "Members of the joint expert team spoke highly of the Institute's openness and transparency, and reached a major conclusion in the joint study report that the allegation of lab leaking is extremely unlikely. The conclusion should be respected."