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US Accuses China of 'Stonewalling' the World on COVID-19 Origins Since January 2020

© Sputnik / Maksim Bogodvid / Go to the photo bankRussian Scientists Successfully Sequence Full Genome of Coronavirus
Russian Scientists Successfully Sequence Full Genome of Coronavirus - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.10.2021
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The world is in the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, but the origins of the disease, which according to Johns Hopkins University has left nearly five million people dead, remain a mystery, with scientists offering various theories including one which suggests that the virus appeared due to a leak at a Chinese laboratory.
China has been "stonewalling" the world on the origins of the novel coronavirus since January 2020, US diplomat Nicholas Burns has said. During his confirmation hearing to become the next US ambassador to China, the official said Washington needs to push Beijing "to come clean about what happened".
Burns stressed that he neither supports the theory that the disease was the result of a natural spillover nor the theory that it could have emerged as the result of a lab leak.
At the beginning of the pandemic, then-President Donald Trump and his allies blamed the emergence of the coronavirus on China. The 45th president, as well as other senior US officials, claimed the virus had either escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or was deliberately leaked, a claim China has categorically denied.
Trump’s allegation was dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. However, since spring there has been a change in attitude towards the lab leak scenario, which began after The Wall Street Journal wrote, citing previously undisclosed documents written by the US Intelligence Community, that three employees of the Wuhan Institute of Virology had sought medical care for a disease similar to COVID-19 three weeks before the Chinese authorities reported the first case of the infection.
A recent investigation conducted by the Biden administration resulted in an inconclusive report, with experts divided over whether the pandemic began due to a spillover from nature or because the disease was leaked by accident.
A World Health Organisation report written jointly with Chinese scientists states it is “extremely unlikely” that the virus was leaked from a laboratory. It said that the virus likely originated in bats and then jumped to an intermediary animal (most likely a pangolin) before infecting humans.

Other Statements Made by Burns

Nicholas Burns is President Joe Biden’s nominee for US ambassador to China. Relations between Beijing and Washington have soured in recent years over a number of issues, ranging from security, territorial disputes, alleged human rights abuses, and the coronavirus pandemic. During his speech, Burns, who served as US ambassador to NATO and under secretary of state for political affairs, weighed in on several issues:
he criticised purported human rights abuses in Xinjiang region, calling it a genocide and emphasised that Washington can’t remain silent on it;
the diplomat criticised Beijing for building up their nuclear arsenal. "China has said they want to increase their nuclear deterrence - they are blasting past that", Burns said;
Burns called on Beijing to stop abuses in Tibet and bullying of Taiwan. He stressed that although Washington is correct in adhering to the “One China” policy, the White House is right in opposing actions by China that undermine the status quo;
touching on financial issues, the diplomat said that Europe must be part of a US strategy to put economic pressure on China;
the US should welcome Chinese students, but turn down visa applicants with ties to the military and intelligence.
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