MOSCOW (Sputnik) – China cannot say for sure that COVID-19 originated within its borders just because it discovered the disease earlier than the rest of the world, Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said on Wednesday.
“There an outbreak in China, but we cannot say that the original source of the coronavirus was in China. We simply detected it earlier than the rest, and took measures”, the ambassador said during a press conference at the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency.
Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui further elaborated that Beijing supports an independent investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) into the origin of COVID-19 while arguing against it being used for political purposes.
We are against conducting such an investigation in the presumption of guilt mode”, the ambassador said.
He has noted that China is ready to cooperate with the WHO as well as other countries.
“It is our duty, our obligation. However, we think that determining the source of COVID-19 is a scientific issue, not a political one”, Zhang said.
In May, more than 100 countries at the World Health Assembly, the WHO decision-making body, backed a call for an investigation into the coronavirus disease’s origin, despite previous opposition from Beijing.
COVID-19 was originally reported in the Chinese province of Hubei, making China the first country to face the outbreak, which is still ongoing.
China has been repeatedly accused by the United States of withholding information about the epidemic during its early stages, blaming it for the spread of the disease. Beijing, on its part, has been vociferously denying such allegations, claiming it has been fully forthcoming since day one.
In late December 2019, the Chinese authorities reported an outbreak of pneumonia of an unknown origin in the city of Wuhan. The cause was later determined to be a new type of coronavirus disease designated by specialists as COVID-19. The infection has so far has killed about 410,000 people worldwide.