China asks Pompeo to show 'enormous evidence' of COVID-19 originating from Wuhan lab

K J M Varma

Beijing, May 6 (PTI) China on Wednesday dared US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to show the 'enormous evidence' he has to prove that the novel coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan and asserted that the matter should be handled by scientists instead of politicians out of their domestic political compulsions in an election year.

In recent days, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo have claimed that the deadly virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected last December. The two leaders have also said that China has refused to give international scientists access to learn what happened.

The claim has drawn fierce rebuttal from Beijing, which on Wednesday described the accusation as 'smear' intended to bolster President Trump's re-election chances in November.

'He (Pompeo) said 'enormous evidence'. Then show us,' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here.

'Pompeo cannot present any evidence because he does not have any,' Hua said. 'This matter should be handled by scientists and professionals instead of politicians out of their domestic political need”.

China's foreign ministry called the accusations a political strategy to 'smear China' for Republicans ahead of the 2020 election.

'The recently exposed US Republican strategies shows they are encouraged to attack China under the pretext of the virus,' Hua said, adding that China was 'fed up with such tricks.' 'We urge the US to stop spreading disinformation or misleading the international community. It should deal with its own problems and deal with the pandemic at home,' she said.

Hua said the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that the US has not presented any evidence to it so far to back up its claims.

'On the issue of the origin of coronavirus, people have different opinions. I think tracing the origin is a very serious matter. That should be researched by scientists and professionals,' she said.

'Almost all top scientists, including those in the US, believe that this virus came from nature, not man-made and there is no possibility that it was leaked from a lab,' said.

'The WHO officials also said all the evidence showed that the virus is not man-made”, she said.

Hua also said all countries must examine the reports that the cases of COVID-19 were reported in some countries in September and December last year.

She said recent reports said coronavirus cases were reported in the US in October last year. Reports from France spoke of a coronavirus case detected from a patient in December last year, Hua said.

In the light of this 'all countries must re-examine the cases emerged in 2019”, she said.

She also challenged Pompeo to show evidence to prove his charge that the viruses in the past originated from labs in China.

'Exactly when, where and which lab in China got such failures,' she asked and called for an investigation into US' use of bacterial weapons in the past.

'The US used bacterial weapons in the Korean war and Agent Orange in the Vietnam war. In the recent decade, the US is blocking the protocol regime to the biological weapons convention”, she said.

Noting that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year suspended research on pathogens at army lab, she said, 'They have been silent on their purposes and safety. So, we hope the US can act in a responsible manner and respond to international calls to accept investigations and respond to concerns.' The novel coronavirus has so far killed over 2.5 lakh people and infected more than 3.6 million globally. The US is the worst-hit nation with over 71,000 deaths and 1.2 million COVID-19 infections.

The Chinese government has faced criticism at home and abroad over its handling of the virus, especially in the early days of the outbreak. It was accused of silencing whistle-blowers and delaying in informing the public about the severity of the crisis. But it has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, brushing aside accusations of a deliberate coverup in the critical early stages.

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