Since March 2020, Chinese officials and state media had floated an alternate theory that the coronavirus did not originate in Wuhan, China as is accepted by major nations of the world. Instead, they said the virus was leaked from a US Army lab. Last week, as the delta variant of the virus gripped China, which has been COVID-19 free from months, Beijing once again started increasing its efforts to propagate this baseless conspiracy theory.
Last month Global Times, a state-run agency, began a campaign asking people to sign an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO). It demanded that an investigation into the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Studies at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Some of the Chinese have started calling it a “US Virus” similar to Trump calling it a “China Virus.”
After the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China, Beijing initiated large scale testing and lockdowns and managed to control large outbreaks with months. Local flareups were blamed on air passengers from other countries, frozen foods, or other goods. It has said that the recent spread of the delta variant was due to workers who improperly cleaned a plane from Russia.
China recently refused to allow a WHO team to inspect its labs in a second phase Investigation in Wuhan, a city that is considered to be the first place where there was an outbreak of COVID-19. When an earlier team of global scientists and experts visited China, they had been given limited access and data.
Beijing has strongly denied the possibility that COVID-19 could have leaked from one of its labs in Wuhan. In May, President Biden had ordered the intelligence community to check whether the virus could have originated in a Wuhan lab. China has called this investigation a politically motivated probe.
The trade wars, the military tensions and the coronavirus pandemic have worsened the relationship between the U.S. China. However, there was one bright spot as gymnasts from both the countries cheered each other. Chinese officials and media praised the interaction in official channels as well on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.