China’s ambassador to the United States would not commit to granting World Health Organization investigators full access to the country as it probes the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the WHO should investigate the US too.
Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in a wide-ranging interview Sunday, Ambassador Cui Tiankai attempted to turn the tables on the US after being asked about claims the novel virus originated in a lab in the Wuhan province.
“I think when people make accusations, they have to prove these accusations. And to say these things at the time when we’re still faced with the pandemic is against the spirit of humanitarianism,” the top Chinese diplomat told the network, going on to allege that “an expert group from the WHO is working in Wuhan with their Chinese counterpart.”
“They are working very hard. They are trying to look at all the facts. We are very supportive to their work,” Cui continued.
Still, he noted, “there’s a certainly need for more tracing to be done all over the world in order to really trace down the origin of the virus.”
Pressed further on the matter, specifically whether scientists would be allowed to have full access to China from WHO officials, Cui would not say.
Instead, he asked why the US was not also being investigated.
“They are already in Wuhan,” he said, “They have been in Wuhan for quite a few days. My questions is, will they be allowed to come here to do the same thing?”
In an op-ed by Cui published last May in the Washington Post, the ambassador took a slightly different tone, acknowledging that the first known case of the virus was in Wuhan.
Still, he argued, “this means only that Wuhan was the first victim of the virus. To ask a victim for compensation is simply ridiculous.”
China, a nation that has faced a wave of international scrutiny over the past few years relating to their activities in Hong Kong and the mass internment of Uighurs, has seen global tensions reach new heights amid their refusal to accept responsibility for a lack of transparency and negligence at the onset of the outbreak.
As the virus grew completely out of Beijing’s control last year, Chinese Communist Party officials and state media went on offense, praising the Communist regime’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic while mounting an aggressive effort to combat the international condemnation.
For its part, the CCP has issued repeated assurances that it reacted swiftly and appropriately to the crisis.
The truth, however, is that the government didn’t launch a national plan to combat the pandemic until the first case was reported outside China, which occurred on Jan. 13 in Thailand.
In the week before China began briefing the WHO, more than 3,000 unknowing individuals were exposed and infected over the course of that week, while government leadership remained silent.
The Chinese doctor who tried to issue the first warnings about the deadly coronavirus in Wuhan — only to be reprimanded and silenced by police — died of the illness in February, 2020 at 34 years old.
On Dec. 30, 2020, Dr. Li Wenliang sent out a warning over the WeChat messaging app advising fellow medical-school grads to wear protective clothing to avoid infection after several patients from a local seafood market exhibited symptoms similar to SARS.
He was one of eight whistleblowers who tried to sound an early alarm about the new virus— only to be denounced by authorities for “rumormongering.”
He was summoned to the Public Security Bureau and required to sign a letter in which he professed to have made “false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order.”