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White House won’t ‘simply accept China saying no’ on probe in Covid origin, says national security adviser

·2-min read
This aerial view shows the P4 laboratory (C) on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on May 27, 2020. (AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view shows the P4 laboratory (C) on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on May 27, 2020. (AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden’s national security adviser says the United States is not going “to simply accept China saying no” to a full Covid-19 investigation.

But Jake Sullivan told CNN’s State of the Union that the White House would not be issuing “threats or ultimatums” to China as it seeks access for a probe into the causes of the pandemic.

Mr Sullivan told host Dana Bash that the administration’s approach was on “two tracks”.

“One track is an intelligence community assessment that President Biden ordered,” said Mr Sullivan.

“The second track is an international investigation led by the World Health Organization, for which President Biden has rallied democratic partners to say there must be access to China, to be able to get the data necessary to understand what happened here.

“We are not at this point going to issue threats or ultimatums. What we’re going to do is continue to rally support in the international community.

“And if it turns out that China refuses to live up to its international obligations, we will have to consider our responses at that point.”

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Mr Biden has told the intelligence community to investigate whether the pandemic can be traced back to a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Republicans, including Donald Trump, have pushed the “lab leak” theory although US scientists have so far said that there is no conclusive evidence to back it up.

Mr Sullivan added that the US was already “in the process of using our own capacities, our own capabilities” to “develop a clearer picture” of what had happened.

And he acknowledged that the G7 leaders had also called for a “timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based” investigation into Covid-19.

“I will repeat what I said before, we’re not going to simply accept China saying no, but we will work between now and when this second phase of the WHO investigation is fully underway to have as strong a consensus in the international community as possible, because it is from that position of strength that we will best be able to deal with China,” said Mr Sullivan.

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