White House press secretary Jen Psaki dodged questions on whether President Joe Biden pressed China on investigating the origins of COVID-19 on Thursday.
Fox News reporter Peter Doocy pressed Psaki on the issue during Thursday’s press briefing, the first briefing since Biden’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday.
“You talked about the importance of transparency, but did [Biden] ask President Xi to cooperate specifically with this U.S. intel agency-led investigation into the origins of COVID?” Doocy asked.
“Peter, it’s clear that that’s what we want. That’s what we’ve been pressing on. I don’t have any more to read out for you from the meeting,” Psaki responded.
“You’re saying that it’s clear. Is it clear to somebody who has a Zoom meeting with the President that that’s what he means, if that’s not what he says?” Doocy pressed.
“I think the President has spoken publicly on this a number of times. Our national security officials have conveyed very clearly. I don’t think it’s a secret, that’s what we want. That’s what we’ve been pressing for,” Psaki said.
The U.S. and our allies have pushed for a more thorough investigation of the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan as evidence has continued to mount indicating the disease may have leaked out the Wuhan coronavirus lab. The World Health Organization sent a team to China to investigate the origins in late January, but Chinese authorities did not allow them to do their own research, relying instead on data and samples collected by Chinese scientists.
China has been in Washington’s spotlight since Monday’s meeting. Biden also confirmed Thursday that the U.S. is “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games over China’s various human rights abuses. The Biden administration has repeatedly condemned what China’s ongoing genocide of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang as well as the overthrow of democracy in Hong Kong. (RELATED: State Department Releases Report Blasting China For Its Genocide Against The Uighurs)
The abuses have led to an outcry from human rights groups calling for the U.S. and other countries to fully boycott the games. The Department of State said in April that a full boycott is not off the table, but the White House now appears to be leaning toward a lighter rebuke in the diplomatic boycott.
Psaki clarified later in the briefing that Biden’s consideration of a partial Olympic boycott is not a commentary on how Monday’s meeting went, however.
““It doesn’t say anything about the meeting,” Psaki said when questioned on the issue. “They didn’t talk about the Olympics during the meeting; it wasn’t a topic that was discussed during the meeting.”
“There are areas that we do have concerns. Human rights abuses, you’ve seen. not just in words we’ve used but certainly in actions we’ve taken at the G7 and other sanctions, that we have serious concerns about the human rights abuses we’ve seen in Xinjiang, and certainly there are a range of factors as we look at what our presence would be,” she added.