Politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic and weaponizing the origin tracing will mar the next stage of coronavirus origin study plan, Liu Guangyuan, commissioner of the Chinese foreign ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said Friday in an article published in the South China Morning Post.
A joint study released by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this year concluded that the introduction of the coronavirus through a laboratory incident was extremely unlikely, and the study pointed the way for the next stage of joint origin tracing in multiple countries and regions under a global framework, Liu said.
However, politicians of some countries turned a blind eye to the study and kept spreading the anti-China political virus, Liu said.
Those politicians from the beginning have politicized the pandemic, stigmatized China with terms such as "Wuhan virus" and weaponized origin tracing to bash China, Liu said, adding that a few have even peddled the so-called lab leak theory.
China will never accept any origin-tracing plan that is a political move to discredit it instead of a scientific one to identify the origins of the virus, Liu said.
Liu reiterated the three points made by China in response to the "lab leak theory."
First, before Dec. 30, 2019, the Wuhan Institute of Virology had not come into contact with, preserved or studied Sars-CoV-2. Second, the institute has never designed, manufactured or leaked the virus. Third, none of the institute's staff members or graduate students have ever been infected with the virus.
Recently, The Lancet published an open letter from 24 scientists, reiterating that the virus most likely originated in nature and not in a laboratory, Liu said, stressing that origin tracing is a serious scientific matter.
China firmly supports science-based origin study and has participated in relevant international cooperation in an open manner, but it opposes any politicizing, he said.
Going forward, the study should build on the initial research and stay committed to the spirit of science and undistracted by politics, Liu said.
The focus should be on tracing animal origins and investigating early cases in multiple countries and regions based on extensive consultations among WHO members, Liu said.
It remains the top priority of the international community to work together to control the virus, reignite the economy, protect livelihoods and promote fair and equitable vaccine distribution to developing countries, Liu said.
The virus does not respect borders and scapegoating gets one nowhere, he said, emphasizing that cooperation is the right way forward.