The Chinese government is willing to work on a “science-based” global origin-tracing of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) but opposes any attempt to politicize such initiative.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, in a briefing for diplomatic envoys in China on August 13, said origin-tracing is a matter of science and must be left to scientists.
“It should be and can only be left to scientists to identify, through scientific research, the virus’ zoonotic source and animal-human transmission routes. No country has the right to put its own political interests above people’s lives, nor should a matter of science be politicized for the purpose of slandering and attacking other countries,” he said in a statement forwarded by the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Friday.
Ma pointed out that Beijing has taken a “scientific attitude” as it engaged with the international community to trace the virus’ origin and did all it can to contribute to global public health security during the pandemic.
He added that China has twice invited experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and even submitted a proposal on the second phase of origin research.
“China has all along supported and will continue to take part in science-based origin-tracing efforts. What China opposes is politicizing origin-tracing, or origin-tracing that goes against the WHA (World Health Assembly) resolution and disregards the joint study report,” Ma said.
The WHO-China joint team published its phase one report on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 in March 2021 and outlined the next series of studies that need to be undertaken.
It did not draw firm conclusions but presented four theories on how the pandemic started. It said out of the four, “direct zoonotic spillover” or transmission of the virus from animal to human was the most possible scenario and that introduction through a laboratory incident was “considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway.”
However, to address this “lab hypothesis”, the WHO on August 12 said access to all data is needed.”China and a number of other Member States have written to WHO regarding the basis for further studies of the SARS-CoV-2 ‘lab hypothesis.’ They have also suggested the origins study has been politicized, or that WHO has acted due to political pressure,” it said.