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Beijing likens COVID lab leak claims to WMD lies that preceded Iraq invasion

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People visit a street market following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province China on September 2, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

A recent report by American media claiming that the lab leak theory explaining the origins of COVID-19 is plausible has prompted an objection from China. 

The Wall Street Journal has cited people familiar with a classified report on the origins of coronavirus pandemic by a US government national laboratory as saying that the lab leak theory deserves further investigation.

According to the report, the study was prepared in May last year by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and was referred to by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic's origins during the final months of the administration of former president Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden in late May directed the US intelligence community to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and find out whether the virus transmitted to humans from an infected animal or from a laboratory accident, giving it 90 days to report back to him.

The Chinese Embassy in the United States decried the allegations as baseless, saying scientists are the party who should figure out the origin of the virus rather than intelligence services.

"The origins of COVID19 is a matter of science and should be jointly studied by scientists worldwide, rather than be politicized. Any conclusion must be drawn in line with WHO procedures and following science-base methods," Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the embassy, said in a tweet late on Monday.

The embassy even went on to draw an analogy between the lab leak claims and the debunked US allegations of WMD stockpiles in Iraq prior to the launch of war on the Middle Eastern country. 

“The campaign to politicize the study of origins and smear China is no different from the lies about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) 12 years ago,” he added.

The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple then dictator Saddam Hussein under the pretext of dismantling Saddam’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Later investigations into the Iraq war in Britain, a key ally of US in the war, proved that the invasion had relied on fabricated intelligence about the existence of WMD in Iraq.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in China in December 2019, the origin of the new coronavirus has been widely discussed online, and conspiracy theories have emerged around it.

The pandemic became a political tool at the hands of Trump, who routinely called the pathogen “the Wuhan virus.”

China has repeatedly floated the theory that the virus was brought to the country through packaging on products such as frozen seafood, a theory the WHO team has not ruled out.


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