China officials dismissed FBI director Christopher Wray’s assessment that the origins of COVID most likely leaked from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, saying the bureau’s claim had “no credibility whatsoever.”
During a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Wray argued that China bears responsibility for the COVID pandemic outbreak, claiming the bureau holds classified material to back up the assessment. Wray said the FBI has officials who focus on the dangers of biological threats, including novel viruses.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters when asked about Wray’s comments that China “strongly opposes political manipulation of the origins-tracing issue in any form.”
“Putting the intelligence community in charge for a matter of science is a clear sign that the issue has been politicized,” Ning said. “Given the U.S. intelligence community’s track record of making up stories, there is little, if any, credibility in their conclusions.”
“The U.S. will not succeed in discrediting China by rehashing the “lab leak” theory, but will only hurt the U.S.’s own reputation,” Ning added.
Ning further addressed the first hearing of the U.S. House Special Committee on China on Tuesday, which examines the strategic threat of the Chinese Communist Party.
“We call on relevant US institutions and individuals to abandon their ideological bias and zero-sum Cold War mentality, develop an objective and rational perception of China and US-China relations, stop framing China as a threat based on disinformation, stop denigrating the Communist Party of China, and stop trying to score political points at the expense of US-China relations,” Ning said.
Wray further accused the Chinese government of “doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate” the work of the U.S.
The remarks from Wray come after U.S. Department of Energy officials revised a previous document that judged with “low confidence” that the virus had leaked from a Chinese laboratory, according to The Wall Street Journal.
New classified intelligence recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress showed Energy Department officials shifted their assessment of the pandemic’s origins in an updated 2021 report by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’s office. The updated classified report also affirms the view that COVID did not stem from a biological weapons program. A lack of a definitive animal source has led researchers and U.S. officials to suspect a leak from Wuhan’s assemblage of laboratories, The Journal noted.
The National Intelligence Council and four agencies, which the Journal says officials refuse to identify, still believe with “low confidence” in the natural emergence theory. The Central Intelligence Agency and two other agencies reportedly still have not made a determination.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ning said that the “origins-tracing” of the virus should be referred back to a March 2021 report published by China and World Health Organization officials, which concluded with an “extremely unlikely” verdict about the lab leak theory.
United Nations health agency officials only referred to the 2021 WHO-China report, in which Newsweek reported Beijing officials “appointed half the researchers on the mission, restricted the team’s access to critical data, and blocked WHO attempts to conduct a phase-two study that included a review of Wuhan’s surroundings.”
China officials have repeatedly denied the blame, fending off assertions from various people, including former President Donald Trump. But a lack of cooperation from China led to the WHO’s investigation into COVID’s origins hitting a snag at a key juncture.
According to the John Hopkins University and Medicine data, more than 6.8 million people diagnosed with COVID have died since the earliest cases were reported in Wuhan in late December 2019.