China is backing calls from the World Health Organization to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic despite what it says are efforts by the U.S. to lie about the start of the virus and point blame on Beijing.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called on China to provide virus samples from the coronavirus outbreak and blamed Beijing for covering up dangers posed by the disease in persecuting Wuhan doctors.
Mr. Pompeo, speaking at the State Department, called on the Chinese government to reveal what it knows about the virus outbreak that began in December, including details on “Patient Zero,” the first person infected.
But China on Thursday pushed back on his remarks and said they “are always open to cooperate with the WHO on matters, including on the question of origin.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing “Show us the proof. If he cannot show any evidence, then he may still be in the process of making up this evidence.”
“While scientists have not come to a conclusion, why is Secretary Pompeo drawing the hasty conclusion that the virus came from a Wuhan lab? Where is his proof?” she asked, pointing to reports from western nations that the virus may not have come from Wuhan, China.
China has repeatedly denied covering up the early outbreak of the virus and claimed it acted appropriately.
There have been more than 3.7 million reported cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, and over 264,000 have died globally.
In recent days, spokespeople for the Chinese government have singled out Mr. Pompeo for comments criticizing China’s mishandling of the outbreak.
The tit-for-tat is the latest in an ongoing war of words between Beijing and Washington.
Chinese authorities initially said the virus began from tainted meat at a wild animal market but some have since tried to shift blame to the United States, claiming the U.S. military brought the virus to Wuhan during a military sporting event in Wuhan last October.
Mr. Pompeo has said there is strong circumstantial evidence the virus came from one of Wuhan’s research laboratories.
But Ms. Hua said Mr. Pompeo has contradicted himself about evidence related to the virus in the past.
“The reason why he contradicts himself is because he is always making up a lie to cover up another lie,” she said. “This is an open secret.”
• Lauren Toms can be reached at email@example.com.
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