France rejects US anti-China claim of COVID-19 link to Wuhan lab
The French government has rejected as unfounded the recent US allegations linking a Chinese research laboratory in the city of Wuhan to the new coronavirus.
“We would like to make it clear that there is to this day no factual evidence corroborating the information recently circulating in the United States press that establishes a link between the origins of COVID-19 and the work of the P4 laboratory of Wuhan, China,” said an official at the office of French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday as quoted in a Reuters report.
The development came after US President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday that his administration was trying to determine whether the coronavirus emanated from a lab in Wuhan – where the current pandemic originated -- and his hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted Beijing “needs to come clean” on what they know.
Such accusatory remarks came, however, even after Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley specifically pointed to US intelligence a day earlier indicating that the coronavirus had likely occurred naturally, contrary to being generated in a Chinese laboratory. He further noted that in either case, there is so far no certainty.
Moreover, influential US-based daily The Washington Post further reported earlier in the week that the Trump administration’s national security officials have long suspected research facilities in Wuhan are the source of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Since February, China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed mainly US-based rumors that the virus may have been artificially synthesized at one of its laboratories or possibly escaped from such a facility.
This is while the broad scientific consensus holds that SARS-CoV-2 -- the official name of the coronavirus -- originated in bats.
France and China signed an agreement in 2004 to establish a research lab on infectious diseases of biosafety level 4 -- the highest level -- in Wuhan, according to a French decree signed by then-foreign minister Michel Barnier.
Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry has also slammed recent remarks by the US president and his top diplomat Pompeo that the novel coronavirus was first created in a Wuhan lab.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said “multiple times there is no evidence the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory. Many well-known medical experts in the world also believe that claims of the so-called laboratory leaks have no scientific basis,” said the ministry’s spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday.
Lijian also accused Washington of making false claims against Beijing regarding nuclear testing violation during a Friday press briefing, further underlining that the Trump administration was already too eager to blame the country for the coronavirus pandemic as well.
“China has always adopted a responsible attitude, earnestly fulfilling the international obligations and promises it has assumed,” Zhao said at a briefing. “The US accusation against China is made of thin air, which is totally unfounded and not worth refuting.”