US must push Beijing to ‘be honest’ about Covid origins, says Chinese ambassador

·2-min read
wuhan lab
wuhan lab

The US Ambassador to China has said that Washington must push Beijing to be more “honest” about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nicholas Burns said China should “be more honest about what happened three years ago in Wuhan with the origin of the Covid-19 crisis”.

His comments came after the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the US Energy Department had concluded the pandemic probably arose from a Chinese laboratory leak, which Beijing denies.

The Energy Department reached its conclusion with “low confidence” in a classified intelligence report recently.

The report was provided to the White House and key members of Congress.

Mr Burns was speaking by video link at a US Chamber of Commerce event.

He also said the US would need to push China to take a more active role in the World Health Organization (WHO) if it wanted to strengthen the United Nations’ health agency.

The US Energy Department has not commented publicly.

‘Variety of views’

On Sunday, Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said there were a “variety of views in the intelligence community” on the pandemic’s origins.

He said: “A number of them have said they just don’t have enough information.”

China’s foreign ministry pointed to a WHO-China report that suggested a natural origin for the pandemic, probably from bats, rather than a leak from a laboratory.

A foreign ministry spokesman said: “Certain parties should stop rehashing the ‘lab leak’ narrative, stop smearing China and stop politicising the origins-tracing issue.”

The US Energy Department oversees a network of 17 laboratories encompassing research in advanced biology.

The FBI has also blamed the pandemic on a leak from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan.

Four other agencies in the US reportedly still believe that the pandemic was the result of natural transmission, and two others are undecided.

One of the agencies that remains undecided is reportedly the CIA.