China Calls West’s Covid Data Criticism ‘Political Interference’

China’s foreign ministry pushed back on criticism from the U.S. and U.K. over data sharing and access for World Health Organization experts, saying Beijing had cooperated with its team during a Covid-19 fact-finding trip to Wuhan.

“This is yet another case in point of political interference in science,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a briefing on Thursday in response to a question on the criticism.

“The WHO experts have applauded the high degree of cooperation they received from the Chinese side,” Hua said. “They said they have met the people they want to meet and they share important new data. I believe this is what professionalism means.”

Both the U.S. and U.K. have called for China to make available raw data relating to the Covid-19 outbreak. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Saturday that the U.S. has “deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the Covid-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also told the BBC that Beijing must cooperate with the WHO probe into the virus’s origins.

“We do share concerns that they get full cooperation and they get the answers they need,” he said, according to Reuters, “and so we’ll be pushing for it to have full access, get all the data it needs to be able to answer the questions that I think most people want to hear answered around the outbreak.”

Covid-19 origin tracing has been contentious, with China trying to fight off criticism of any mishandling of the pandemic and stepping up efforts to recast the virus narrative amid growing scrutiny over the pathogen’s origins. Beijing has suggested the virus may have arrived in China through imported frozen seafood and urged the WHO to carry out investigations in other countries.

WHO investigators who recently visited China concluded that it was extremely unlikely that the coronavirus leaked from a lab in the city of Wuhan -- a theory promoted by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

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