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(Bloomberg) — China accused the U.S. of spreading “lies” and “conspiracy theories” after the Trump administration said it had new information suggesting the coronavirus might have emerged from a Chinese laboratory.
A U.S. State Department factsheet on the virus origins released Friday was “full of fallacies,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing Monday in Beijing. She dismissed the claims as the “last madness” of outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.
Hua said that China was cooperating with the World Health Organization and its probe into the pathogen’s origins. A team of WHO experts arrived in China last week and is currently in quarantine.
The State Department had said it had new evidence that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in the autumn of 2019, before the first identified case of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city, with symptoms it said were consistent with Covid-19 or common seasonal illnesses. The allegations mark the latest move by the outgoing Trump administration to pressure China over the origins of the virus, just days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The U.S. didn’t say how it obtained the new information about illnesses at the lab. The State Department said Beijing’s lack of transparency about the virus’s origin — along with efforts to mask initial shortcomings in responding to the outbreak — made it difficult to draw clear conclusions.
China Making It Harder to Solve the Mystery of Where Covid Began
China has been under scrutiny since the outbreak in Wuhan, but the Trump administration also sought to put more blame on authorities in Beijing as the pandemic worsened in the U.S.
Beijing is increasing efforts to recast the coronavirus narrative amid growing scrutiny over its origins, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying earlier this month that “more and more research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world.”
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