China Says WHO Should Investigate Fort Detrick In Maryland Instead Of Returning To Wuhan

(Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pushing back on plans for the World Health Organization (WHO) to further investigate the source of the COVID-19 pandemic in China.

The WHO announced plans for the next step in its COVID-19 inquiry Friday, including further examination of animal markets in and around Wuhan and “audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019,” which would include the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday those plans were “inconsistent” with China’s position on the question.

“The proposal for the second phase of origin tracing by the WHO Secretariat is inconsistent with the position of the Chinese side and also of many countries,” Zhao said at a press briefing, according to the South China Morning Post. He said the investigation should instead focus on a zoonotic origin of the virus, as well as the role played by frozen foods and cold chains in its transmission.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the CCP Thursday to be more transparent and cooperate with further inquiries. Calls have grown from the United States and some of its allies for there to be further examination of a possible lab leak from the WIV, but China has called the lab leak theory “absurd.” (RELATED: China Reports Human Case Of Bird Flu Variant)

Zhao accused China’s counterparts of politicizing the issue, but did not call out the United States by name.

“Origins research is a scientific issue and should be conducted by scientists around the world. We are concerned about the politicization of origin tracing by certain countries,” he said. “We hope the World Health Organization will have thorough communication with member states, widely collect opinions and suggestions from all parties, and ensure that the drafting of the proposal is open and transparent.”

Zhao has previously promoted the entirely unsupported theory that the virus emerged from a lab at Fort Detrick in Fredericksburg, Maryland. Monday, he again tweeted that the WHO should investigate there instead of in Wuhan. Multiple Chinese state-run media outlets reported over the weekend on a petition circulating within the country calling for an investigation into Fort Detrick. It has reportedly gathered more than 1 million signatures.