China warns against ‘political manipulation’ in new probe of coronavirus origins

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China is warning against “political manipulation” in the new probe into the origins of the coronavirus the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday.

Beijing will “continue to support and participate in global scientific tracing and firmly oppose any forms of political manipulation,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

“We hope that all parties concerned, including the WHO secretariat and the advisory group, will effectively uphold an objective and responsible scientific attitude,” Zhao added.

The WHO had earlier announced a 26-member team, called the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, that will will renew an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. 

The WHO had previously investigated the origins of the coronavirus, finding it most likely came from an animal, but the report was heavily criticized with people saying the organization did not have enough evidence to make that conclusion.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later agreed and said the theory the coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan, China shouldn’t have been dismissed so quickly.

The U.S. led its own investigation into the origins of the virus and also found inconclusive evidence on whether the virus was transmitted by an animal or started in a laboratory. 

One of the biggest reported difficulties in determining the origins of the virus has been China’s unwillingness to release data that has been requested.

Beijing has denied multiple times the virus started in a laboratory, calling the investigations a form of “political maneuvering.”

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