US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan issued a stern warning to China during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Asked whether Biden intends to insist that a potential second probe into the origins of the virus must be an “independent” investigation, Sullivan said that Biden convinced Washington’s allies in the G-7 to pile pressure on Beijing.
“It is that diplomatic spadework – rallying the nations of the world, imposing political and diplomatic pressure on China, that is a core part of the effort we are undertaking to ultimately face China with a stark choice,” Sullivan said.
Beijing, Sullivan argued, was given an ultimatum: either to acquiesce to the demands and “allow…investigators in to do the real work of figuring out where this came from” or “face isolation in the international community.”
China featured heavily in the communique issued by the G7 group, comprising the leaders of the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada, plus the EU, after a summit earlier this month. In addition to criticizing China’s alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, the document demanded a thorough probe into the origins of the pandemic.
The Group of Seven countries called for a “timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study,” citing recommendations of the experts’ report released earlier.
Beijing denounced the statement as a “serious violation of the basic norms of international relations,” accusing the G7 “clique” of sowing division at the time when a concerted effort is needed.
The renewed interest in the origins of the virus follows reports in the US media last month that several researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology got sick and required hospital treatment weeks before the start of the pandemic.
The Washington Post, which carried the “scoop,” cited a previously undisclosed US intelligence report as a source.
China has vehemently denied the allegation, accusing Washington of hyping up the issue, and defended the findings of the initial WHO-led probe as “widely representative and highly professional.”
On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian blasted the US for “politicizing the origin-tracing issue.” He also fired back at the proposition, suggesting that Washington instead should “invite” experts to a biolab in the Maryland-based Fort Detrick center and other places for “a detailed investigation” in the name of transparency.