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China warns against ‘manipulation’ of WHO viral probe

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Chinese Foreign Ministry has warned of what it calls possible “political manipulation” of a new World Health Organization investigation into the origins of the coronavirus

The WHO on Wednesday released a proposed list of 25 experts to advise it on next steps in tracing the origins of the virus after its earlier efforts were attacked for being too accommodating with China, where the first human cases have been found. were detected at the end of 2019.

Beijing was accused of withholding raw data on the first cases during a visit by a WHO team in February and has since resisted calls for further investigation, saying the United States and d others politicized the issue.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China “will continue to support and participate in global scientific tracing and firmly oppose any form of political manipulation.”

“We hope that all parties involved, including the WHO secretariat and the advisory group, will effectively maintain an objective and responsible scientific attitude,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

The original WHO-led team’s findings were inconclusive and experts released a report concluding that it was “extremely unlikely” that the coronavirus had leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, drawing criticism from outside scientists that the theory had not been properly verified. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later admitted that it was “premature” to reject the laboratory theory.

Beijing has repeatedly asked if the virus actually originated in China and called for investigations in US military laboratories without providing strong evidence.

China has largely eradicated cases of local transmission of COVID-19 infections through wearing masks, quarantine and electronic case tracking, as well as sometimes drastic measures, including lockdowns and mandatory mass testing .

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