Biden Says He Has Not Spoken to Chinese Leader About Virus Origins
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Biden was asked: “Have you had the chance to ask him [Xi] if these reports are true, that China maybe misled the world at the beginning?”
“I have not had that conversation with President Xi,” Biden said.
Biden’s latest comment draws scrutiny to how hard the Biden administration will push China to be transparent about COVID-19, considering how Biden and Xi have had a relationship dating back years.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was elusive when he was asked whether Washington would hold Beijing accountable for how it handled the pandemic.
On March 30 the World Health Organization (WHO) released a controversial report, put together by a team of Chinese and foreign experts, based on findings from a fact-finding mission in central China’s Wuhan city earlier this year.
The report found that the possibility of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus being leaked from a lab was “extremely unlikely,” a conclusion that reinforced Beijing’s longstanding denial that its Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the pandemic.
Many have pointed to the Wuhan lab as the possible source of the virus, including former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield. In January, the U.S. State Department released a fact sheet stating that it “had reason to believe” several researchers at the institute fell ill with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses in the autumn of 2019.
Meanwhile, the report also did not refute another Beijing claim that the possibility of the virus originating from contaminated “cold-chain” food was “possible” but not likely. China has suspected frozen food imports could be contaminated with the virus.
The report has since been heavily criticized. On March 30, 14 nations including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement questioning the report while calling for a “transparent and independent analysis and evaluation.”
Several U.S. lawmakers also criticized the report as biased.
“The World Health Organization’s report is nothing more than a product of China’s propaganda machine,” said Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in a statement.
Comer added: “From the onset of this investigation, the Chinese Communist Party was given permission by the WHO to manipulate the report’s data, exclude American scientists, and produce the report’s final conclusions. This is a blatant attempt by China to alter reality and hide the truth.”
Fabian Leendertz, a veterinarian and microbiologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Germany and one of the experts that went to Wuhan for the fact-finding mission, told Science Magazine that the report “was a compromise” between different experts.
“And in a compromise, you have to respect the other’s views,” Leendertz stated.
Wuhan resident Zhang Hai told Radio Free Asia on March 31 that the Chinese authorities should stop claiming that the virus originated from imported frozen food packages. Zhang is known for having filed a lawsuit against the Wuhan municipal government seeking compensation for his late father, who died of COVID-19 in February last year.
“If it did come to China in frozen food, then why wasn’t there an outbreak overseas first? Why did the outbreak happen in China?” Zhang asked.
“Now such an important question has become embroiled in the bureaucracy of the WHO, and now it hasn’t been properly investigated,” he said, adding that the WHO has become a puppet of the Chinese regime.