Top Chinese Official Distances Himself From Unfounded Conspiracy Theory That Coronavirus Began In US Lab

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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China’s Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai reiterated his belief that it’s “crazy” to spread the rumor that the novel coronavirus began in an American lab during an interview Sunday.

Cui spoke to Axios reporter Jonathan Swan in an interview that aired on “Axios on HBO.” The ambassador said over a month ago on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that these rumors were “crazy.” After the interview, Chinese Ministry of Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian began to promote the rumor.

Swan asked Cui about this conspiracy theory. Zhao had tweeted that “it might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” He urged followers to spread an article pushing this theory in a second tweet. Cui appeared to continue to distance himself from the spokesman Sunday. He said his “Face the Nation” comments still stand – that spreading the conspiracy is “crazy.”

“That’s my position then and that’s my position now,” according to Cui. (RELATED: Chinese Official Blames US For Introducing Coronavirus To Wuhan, Says US ‘Owes Us An Explanation’)


The ambassador added that scientists should be determining where the virus began. He added that it is “very harmful” for journalists or diplomats to be suggesting where the novel coronavirus may have started. Cui suggested that Swan “go and ask” Zhang about whether any evidence backed up the conspiracy theory.

“Well you could try to interpret somebody else’s statement,” Cui said. “I’m not in the position and I don’t have the responsibility to explain everybody’s view to you.”