A truly bombshell and unprecedented accusation, underscoring that if Sino-US relations amid the broader crisis weren't already bad enough, they're about to crash much, much lower: China's Foreign Ministry spokesman tweets "it might be the US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan" — the widely acknowledged epicenter and origin point of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Such shock allegations have recently been swirling in foreign media, especially in Chinese, Iranian and Russian press; however, this is the first time such a high Beijing has leveled the charge — this after President Trump controversially referred to it as a "foreign virus".
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the remarks on his official Twitter account Thursday, citing prior televised testimony by CDC Director Robert Redfield to the House Oversight Committee:
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
After for months the globe wrangled over "patient zero" and origin points in China, including scrutiny focused on the Chinese state-owned virology lab in Wuhan, which itself happened to be in the ground zero hot zone, it appears Beijing is now aggressively deflecting "blame" for the spread.
"Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!" [sic] Lijian demanded.
When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent!
So it appears the official Chinese party line is now that the virus originated in the United States!
The charge appears rooted in the part of Redfield's testimony where he said early Covid-19 cases were mistaken for regular influenza.
1/2 CDC Director Robert Redfield admitted some Americans who seemingly died from influenza were tested positive for novel #coronavirus in the posthumous diagnosis, during the House Oversight Committee Wednesday. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
Formerly as deputy chief of mission at China's embassy in Pakistan, Lijian actaully has a history of combative and bombastic statements on Twitter that many in the West have actually compared to Donald Trump's social media style of unfiltered accusations.
It'll be interesting to see if other top officials in Beijing and in the Communist Party double down on this tweets and affirm these "suspicions" and outlandish accusations leveled at Washington.