Ramping up its attack against Beijing, the United States has said that there is a “significant amount of evidence” that the novel coronavirus, which has infected millions worldwide, emerged from a Chinese laboratory. China, however, accused the Donald Trump-led administration of “bluffing” and sought proof to justify its statement.
Speaking to ABC news on Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”
Pompeo, however, briefly contradicted the US intelligence agencies’s conclusion that the virus was neither man-made nor genetically modified.
“The best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” he said.
When the interviewer pointed out that was not the conclusion of the intelligence agencies, he backtracked, saying: “I’ve seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong.”
The State Department is yet to issue any clarification on Pompeo’s remarks.
Responding to Pompeo’s remarks, China’s Global Times, run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial that he did not have any evidence the virus came from the lab in Wuhan and that he was “bluffing”. It also asked the US to provide proof in this regard.
The entire Intelligence Community (IC) has been consistently providing critical support to US policymakers and those responding to the virus, which first broke out in China, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement.
Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S. Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2020
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” ODNI said giving its assessment about the infection.
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“The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” it added.
Last week, Pompeo had said it was not known whether the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a meat market, or somewhere else. On the same day, Trump had said that he was confident it may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, but declined to describe the evidence.