|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 7, 2020|
CCTV: Speaking to ABC News on May 3, US Secretary of State Pompeo initially said the best experts so far seem to think the novel coronavirus was man-made and he has no reason to disbelieve that at this point. The hostess then questioned that, pointing out the office of the DNI says the scientific consensus was that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified. Confusingly, Pompeo said "that's right. I agree with that. I've seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly. I have no reason to doubt that it is accurate at this point." How do you see these contradicting remarks?
Hua Chunying: He contradicted himself because he was busy fabricating lies, telling one lie to cover up another. This is an open secret.
BBC: Also related to the comments of the US Secretary of State. Again he referred to the possibility of the lab, but specifically, Mr. Pompeo said that China has been withholding virus samples. What does the Chinese government have to say about that specific allegation?
Hua Chunying: I don't understand what he was referring to.
On the one hand he admitted that he cannot be sure the virus came from the lab in Wuhan, and on the other hand he said he had important evidence suggesting the lab may have virus samples. He also claimed that China was not transparent and could have avoided up to tens of thousands of deaths. I believe we need to present a list of facts here.
On the source of the virus, top-notch scientists around the world, including leading American scientists and experts on disease control, have said multiple times that this is an issue that should be determined based on science and facts. In the past few days, more reports have emerged on new discoveries regarding the time of the first case. Like in France, the first case has been traced back to December last year, which was caused by the virus of unknown origin inside France and different from those imported from China. The chief epidemiologist at Sweden's Public Health Agency said that it's likely that there were individual cases of coronavirus in Sweden as early as November 2019. The mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, the US admitted that he was infected with COVID-19 last November. Cases were confirmed in Florida last November but none of these 171 patients traveled to China before that. When scientists are busy doing their job, Pompeo has been trying so hard to spread the words that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan. Where is the evidence? Please show us. Perhaps he is still busy fabricating it?
Maybe he doesn't know that the Wuhan P4 laboratory was born out of cooperation between the Chinese and French governments, that its design, construction and management all follow international standards, that its first group of researchers were trained at P4 labs in France and the US, and its facilities and equipment are tested annually by third party accredited by the state. Committed to timely and openly sharing scientific and research information, the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), as one of the several dozens of P4 labs around the world, has been carrying out cooperation and exchanges with others. Last year, it received over 70 visits by foreign scholars. Their platform of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Resource has been accessed over 600,000 times and its data downloaded over 21 million times. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance and prominent virus expert who has been cooperating with the WIV for 15 years, said on an April 26 interview that the Wuhan lab does not have the virus that could trigger the outbreak.
In response to those who accuse China of delays and cover-ups which led to the spread, we have talked about China's COVID-19 response in the form of a timeline many times. Facts are clear and simple. Nature magazine on May 4 published a study result by scientists from China, the UK, the US and other countries. It shows that without non-pharmaceutical interventions by China, the number of infected people would have been 67 times bigger than that which actually occurred. I read another article today which is thought-provoking for me and I feel like sharing with you here. It is an opinion piece written by Jeffrey D. Sachs, an award-winning economist and also director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, criticizing the US government's senseless logic to blame China and the subsequent consequences. He said that the big lie of the US administration is that China is the cause of America's problems, which recalls the McCarthy era. He ends the article with the question "You have done enough. Have you no shame?", a question echoed by many with a sense of justice in China and around the world.
As you may know, when Wuhan was locked down on January 23, there was only one officially confirmed case in the US. When the US closed its border to China on February 2, there were 11. When the US announced a nationwide emergency state on March 13, there were 1264. When the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan on April 8, there were already 400,000. Today, the number of confirmed cases in the US tops 1.2 million with more than 60,000 deaths. It took less than 100 days for the number to jump from just one to over one million. What has the US government been doing during these 100 days? The WHO head said that to all countries around the world, the warning from China is the same and the signal is clear. Why is it that some countries made adequate reactions and effective interventions, while the US failed to do so? Is there nothing that the US can reflect upon?
If China covered up the real situation, then why did the US Consulate General in Wuhan pull out of its staff before others did? If the US side sensed no danger, then what's the rush in pulling out? A recent report by the US CDC made it clear that limited testing ability contributed to problems like silent transmission, which caused an accelerated spread of the virus in the US in February and March. Is this also China's fault? The US likes to talk about whistleblowers. China's whistleblower Doctor Zhang Jixian is awarded. How about those on the American side, like Doctor Helen Y. Chu, Captain Brett Crozier, and so many other medical workers? Dr. Rick Bright, who was ousted as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has filed a whistleblower complaint on May 5. He said in the complaint that his early warnings about the virus were ignored and he was demoted because he was cautious when choosing certain drugs. What is the US government planning to do with that complaint? How will it explain the blank column on the CDC website and the missing information that Florida already had 171 infected cases back in January?
Isn't the NRSC's 57-page memo, instructing candidates to attack China for the virus, revealing enough? How many more facts are being hidden? Who on earth is jeopardizing the lives of American people? Aren't the 60,000 lives enough to awaken these US politicians from the blame game? Do they really have not the slightest sense of morality and conscience to care about something more than their own political interests, not even when human lives are at stake?
We are facing a war. That is true. A war between mankind and virus, between truth and falsehood. Blaming others won't solve one's own problems and bring back lost lives. We are truly saddened by those lost lives in the US and we sincerely hope that they can bring the outbreak under control as soon as possible. China stands ready to help as its ability permits.
We genuinely hope that those American politicians who are so bent on the blame game will change course and focus on fighting the epidemic inside the US so that more lives will be saved and their people's health and security be better protected.
South China Morning Post: Secretary Pompeo said the US Department of State will delay the submission of the Hong Kong related annual report to the Congress to account for any additional actions that Beijing may be contemplating in the run-up to the Two Sessions. Do you have any response to that? In addition, Indonesia's foreign minister said the COC negotiations between China and ASEAN countries are being delayed due to the novel coronavirus. Can you give us more details about how the negotiations are going? Any plan for more talks by the end of this year?
Hua Chunying: Hong Kong is part of China and the Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. We firmly oppose US interference in China's internal affairs in any form, including in Hong Kong affairs.
China has been actively committed to advancing the COC negotiations with ASEAN countries. We hope to see continuous progress in reaching a code of conduct agreed by all countries in this region, so that we can better uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Beijing Youth Daily: We understand that the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region recently donated anti-epidemic supplies to the American Flying Tiger Historical Organization. Could you give us more details?
Hua Chunying: Indeed, recently the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR) people's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries donated anti-epidemic supplies to the American Flying Tiger Historical Organization, including 6,000 surgical masks and 4,000 surgical gloves. The organization has received this batch of supplies and will distribute them to its members and the family and friends of the veterans.
The flying tigers, a household name in China, are a vivid example of how China and the US worked together to meet common challenges. They are also a vivid symbol of the friendship between our two peoples. The donation of anti-epidemic materials by relevant Chinese organization to the American Flying Tiger Historical Organization is not only a continuation of the historical friendship between the Chinese and American people, but also a move to reciprocate the kindness China received from all sectors of the US earlier during the coronavirus outbreak.
According to incomplete statistics, as of May 6, Chinese provinces, cities, institutions and companies have donated more than 9.6 million masks, 500,000 boxes of testing reagents, 305,900 pairs of medical and other gloves, 133,500 pairs of goggles and other medical supplies to 30 states and 55 cities in the US. According to Chinese customs statistics, from March 1 to May 5, China has provided more than 6.6 billion masks, 344 million pairs of surgical gloves, 44.09 million sets of protective gowns, 6.75 million pairs of goggles and nearly 7,500 ventilators to the US.
As the American people are fighting COVID-19, we hope that they can overcome the epidemic as soon as possible .China will continue to provide support and assistance to people in the rest of the world, including in the US, as its capacity allows.
Shenzhen TV: As we understand, China Meheco Group Co., Ltd. and the WHO signed a cooperation agreement. Do you have more details?
Hua Chunying: The Chinese government firmly supports the leading role of WHO in global anti-pandemic cooperation, and Chinese companies are also proactively engaged in practical cooperation with the organization. Previously, China Meheco Group Co., Ltd. provided much assistance to WHO for its purchase of supplies in China. As we understand, the two sides recently inked a new agreement, under which China Meheco Group Co., Ltd. will provide such services including supplier audit, product purchase and warehousing. The company will continue to assist WHO in its procurement of personal protective equipment and use its warehouses in Beijing and Guangzhou to store it.
The Chinese side stands ready to better tap into the advantages in production capacity, storage and logistics to provide more efficient and high-quality services to the WHO and make its contributions to global anti-pandemic cooperation.
NHK: WHO spokesperson recently said that the organization will send another expert team to China for in inquiry into the origin of the virus. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Tracing the origin of virus is a scientific issue that should be assessed by scientists and specialists based on adequate scientific demonstration. China has been in close and unimpeded communication with WHO. We stand ready to continue cooperating with WHO and jointly combating the pandemic.
The Paper: The Daily Telegraph reported on May 4 that the Asia Studies Center of the Henry Jackson Society found a video showing basic bio-safety procedures were not followed in the Wuhan Institute of Virology while handling deadly novel coronavirus strains, which may have caused the spread of the virus. What's your comment?
Hua Chunying: The Henry Jackson Society mentioned in the report maintains an attitude towards China that represents the perception and illusion held by some extremely anti-China forces.
With regard to rumors surrounding the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Mr. Yuan Zhiming, researcher at the WIV and director of China's National Biosafety Laboratory, gave a thorough response during his recent interview with Reuters. He pointed out that biosafety procedures are strictly enforced in the lab and that high level biosafety labs have sophisticated protective facilities and strict measures to ensure the safety of lab staff and protect the environment.
After checking with relevant authorities, we have found out that the video you mentioned has nothing to do with WIV researchers or their studies. It was never on the WIV website. The clip turned out to be part of a science documentary called Youth in the Wild. Those who appeared in it are from the Wuhan CDC. There was also a similar picture which turned out to have been taken in Hainan Province in 2007.
Such grafting tricks are nothing new. We've seen them on issues relating to Xinjiang and Hong Kong. I wonder if friends from the press have any good idea to deal with them? Can we sue them?
PTI: Judging from what the Chinese envoy to the United Nations said and what you said yesterday about the origin's inquiry by the WHO, can we conclude in principle that China has no objection for WHO to carry out an inquiry?
Hua Chunying: China has never said it stands against WHO. In fact, we have all along firmly supported the organization's work. We will continue cooperating with WHO with openness, transparency and responsibility, including on the issue of tracing the origin of virus. Like I said yesterday, we support a wash-up and review for conclusion at appropriate time. We believe as long as it can help mankind to better deal with similar major infectious disease in the future, China will make our due efforts and contributions with a high sense of responsibility.
What we object to is the attempt to politicize the tracing of origin of the virus by the US and some other countries, who are so eager to launch an international inquiry based on the presumption of guilt.
BBC: US President Donald Trump compared the situation with the coronavirus to the attack on Pearl Harbor and also the 9/11 attack in an interview. He didn't specifically say that this equals China attacking the US, but he did mentioned China. What's the Chinese government's response?
Hua Chunying: If COVID-19 pandemic is comparable to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attack, then the enemy the US faces this time is the novel coronavirus. The novel coronavirus is the common enemy of all mankind. In the face of this war between human and virus, China and the US should be comrades in arms rather than enemies. Only with the concerted efforts of the international community to combat the pandemic can we win the war between mankind and the coronavirus once and for all. But it is a great pity that some people in the US are now dumping the blame all around. This is wrong, and they should make all-out efforts and focus on fighting the pandemic.
Since the outbreak, with an open, transparent and responsible attitude, China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous, and thorough prevention and control measures to curb the spread of the epidemic. We have timely updated WHO and other countries on the epidemic, shared experience in prevention and control, actively carried out international cooperation and provided anti-epidemic supplies to relevant countries and organizations as our capacity allows. Professionals and scientists from many countries have praised China's timely and effective prevention and control measures.
But it is the US alone that has made dissonant voices from time to time. What we want to ask is this: China brought the epidemic under control in about two months, while the number of confirmed cases in the US has been on the rise, reaching over 1.2 million today. What has the US done over the past months? The US, as the most advanced country in terms of medical technology, could have done better if it had put its people's lives first as the Chinese government did, and we do wish they had done a better job. But why did the US allow the outbreak to get to where it is today? This is worth reflecting on and drawing lessons from. It is not too late to mend their ways.
Again, people's lives come before selfish political interests. We urge the US side to stop scapegoating China and deflecting attention. Instead, it should get its own house in order and give the American people a clear explanation.