China on Monday hit out at the U.S. for its “politicization” of the COVID-19 origin tracing, saying it has obstructed international efforts to “fight the outbreak and save lives.”
This came as the United States and Britain are stepping up calls for the World Health Organization to take a deeper look into the possible origins of COVID-19, including a new visit to China where the first human infections were detected.
The new push came after U.S. President Joe Biden instructed U.S. intelligence agencies to “redouble” efforts to find information about how the pandemic emerged.
Beijing has deemed the order as a political manipulation. “We maintain that the virus tracing work should rely on scientists instead of intelligence personnel,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a daily news briefing.
WATCH: Why the U.S. is taking a second look at the ‘lab leak’ theory about COVID-19
Wang urged the U.S. and its allies not to “sabotage” the international origin-tracing cooperation for “ulterior political purposes.”
WHO and Chinese experts said in the first report in March the most likely scenario about how the pandemic emerged was that the coronavirus jumped into people from bats via an intermediary animal, and the prospect that it erupted from a laboratory was deemed “extremely unlikely.”
Asked about reports that the U.S. government blocked imports of seafood Friday from a Chinese company that authorities say forced crew members to work in slave-like conditions, Wang said the allegation is a total “fabrication.”
Customs and Border Protection said it will place an immediate hold on any imports linked to the more than 30 vessels operated by Dalian Ocean Fishing, under a U.S. law that bars goods suspected to have been produced with forced labor.
“Dalian Ocean Fishing has never sold any products to the U.S., so there is actually nothing for the U.S. to seize,” Wang rebutted.
Separately, Wang urged Australia and New Zealand to stop meddling in China’s internal affairs “under the guise of human rights.”
During their first face-to-face meeting since the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Scott Morison and his counterpart Jacinda Ardern expressed concerns on human rights condition in China’s far western Xinjiang region and demanded Beijing allow a “meaningful” visit by the UN and other parties to the region.
“We once again urge the relevant parties to stop making irresponsible remarks and do more things that are conducive to the development of bilateral relations and regional peace and stability,” said Wang.