Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday urged the US to be transparent and face up to the calls of the international community, including the Chinese, and give a satisfactory explanation to the open letter signed by at least 750,000 Chinese calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate Fort Detrick for COVID-19 origins.
The public and the media are trying to get answers to questions that the international community has been asking for a while now. However, some people in the US have been keeping the public in the dark, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at Monday's media briefing. His comments come after Chinese netizens entrusted the Global Times with posting an open letter on Saturday asking the WHO to investigate the Fort Detrick lab, which has since generated 750,000 signatures as of 3 pm Monday.
"Please answer the following questions: First, what's the connection between the Fort Detrick lab and the unexplained respiratory diseases like those suspected with vaping? Second, why hasn't the US invited the WHO to conduct a thorough investigation at Fort Detrick? Third, why can't international experts visit the US for tracing virus origins since they have visited China?" Zhao asked.
The US should be transparent and respond to the concerns, Zhao said, noting that recently 54 countries have sent letters to the WHO opposing the politicization of the probe on the origins of the virus.
"Any act of abandoning science and truth out of selfish interests, advocating tracing the origins by using intelligence agencies, or threatening or suppressing experts and scholars will only seriously disrupt and undermine global cooperation in fighting the epidemic. It will also arouse strong dissatisfaction and opposition from the international community," Zhao said, noting that it will never succeed.
A group of Chinese netizens drafted a joint open letter to ask the WHO to investigate the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland. They entrusted the Global Times with posting the letter on its WeChat and Weibo platforms on Saturday to solicit a public response.
They said in the letter that to prevent the next epidemic, the WHO should pay special attention to labs that are conducting studies on dangerous viruses or even biochemical weapons. The open letter particularly noted the Fort Detrick lab, which stores the most deadly and infectious viruses in the world, including Ebola, smallpox, SARS, MERS and the novel coronavirus. The leak of any of them would cause severe danger to the world.
Prior to this, the same group of netizens published an open letter in June calling for the WHO to investigate Fort Detrick.
The open letter was issued as the WHO awaits its phase-II study into the origins of the COVID-19. The Global Times also launched an online poll on Saturday, which showed over 90 percent of the 18,000 participants agreed that the WHO should investigate the US' Fort Detrick biological lab.
On WHO's proposals of follow-up study into the origins, Zhao said that it was not consistent with the position of China and many other countries. China hoped that the WHO will have full communication with member states, listen to and adopt opinions of all parties and ensure that the drafting process of the phase-II study is open and transparent.
China is concerned about the politicization of the coronavirus origins issue by some countries. We hope that the WHO,in the spirit of scientific professionalism and objectivity, will work with the international community to resist the adverse trend of politicizing of the issue, Zhao said.