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SUNDAY, December 04, 2022
US virus origin-tracing report dismissed as scapegoating

US virus origin-tracing report dismissed as scapegoating

MONDAY, August 30, 2021

Officials and experts are saying Beijings recent pushback has been "necessary and helpful" to frustrate Washingtons attempt to scapegoat China, after the US intelligence community unveiled a vaguely worded, inconclusive summary of the COVID-19 origin-tracing report submitted to President Joe Biden.

Politicizing origin tracing will further backfire and "lead nowhere", and Washington should "return to a science-based, cooperation-driven global response", they said.

In May, Biden directed the US intelligence community to produce a report on COVID-19's origin within 90 days. The two-page, unclassified summary of the report was released on Friday by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The summary states that US investigators "judge the virus was not developed as a biological weapon", but they do not rule out natural exposure to the virus, nor a laboratory accident as the origin of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

By Friday, the US had reported at least 38.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 628,400 deaths, the highest number of infections and death toll of any country, according to World Health Organization updates.

"Justice will prevail, and injustice is doomed to fail," Vice-Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said on Saturday in a statement, noting that Beijing has made serious protests to Washington over the report.

Washington has failed to respond to global concerns and the calls for a complete investigation of over 200 US bio-labs located across the globe, he said.

In so doing, the US "attempts to cover up facts and shirk its responsibilities", and it should "face up to the global community with a clear response", he said.

Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said, "China's recent pushbacks against the US report have been powerful enough to convince Washington that it has neither overwhelmed Beijing nor reached its goal of dealing a heavy blow to China with the tracing issue."

The 90-day review came "in like a lion, (and went) out like a lamb", and Washington has been fixating on the tracing with a grandiose gesture, but the report summary fails to be conclusive and seems like a flailing in the air, she said.

"Behind the review was a dual-purpose strategy: courting the conservative, right-wing political forces in the US and, at the same time, hijacking China for political bargaining and pressuring for benefits regarding other issues," Su said.

But the outcome is that Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for failing to meet their expectations, she said.

A subsequent statement by the White House purported that China is trying to hold back international investigation and rejects calls for transparency. The statement urges like-minded partners to exert pressure on China.

Ma, the vice-foreign minister, said that the US campaign of politicizing the tracing issue has been unpopular and has drawn widespread criticism around the world.

Washington should "immediately cease poisoning the atmosphere for global cooperation on tracing, stop undermining the global joint COVID-19 response", he said.

Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission, said in a China Central Television interview released on Sunday that mobilizing intelligence agencies to work on tracing in itself yields more ironclad proof that the US is politicizing the tracing issue.

The US is urged to "encourage scientists from all countries to work in concert" and to "support scientists in carrying out in-depth origin tracing research in multiple countries and locations around the world, including the US", Zeng said.