China on Thursday said the bio-lab in Wuhan, which is in the eye of storm in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, is a Sino-French cooperation project with its staff trained in France, even as it sounded ambivalent about agreeing for a World Health Organization probe into the origin of COVID-19.
Accusing United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of fabricating lies over the involvement of the virology lab in Wuhan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying sought to deflect criticism over its role by highlighting its French connection.
"May be he still doesn't know the P4 Wuhan Institute of Virology lab is a China-French government cooperation project and it followed international standards in its design construction and management," Hua told a media briefing here while responding to Pompeo's allegations.
"The first batch of staff were trained at French labs," she said, adding that its equipment is tested every year by internationally recognised third parties.
In recent days, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo have claimed that the deadly virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected last December.
Hua again asked Pompeo to show "enormous evidence" he has to prove that the novel coronavirus originated from the lab in Wuhan. "He (Pompeo) contradicts himself. He is making lies to cover up other lies. It is an open secret," she said.
About US President Trump's assertion that COVID-19 attack was worse than that of the Pearl Harbour attack in WW-II and September 1, 2001 terrorist attack, Hua said that in such a case the enemy is coronavirus, not China.
"If it can be compared to pearl harbour or 9/11 attack, so the enemy US faces is coronavirus. The US should work with China as a comrade in the fight instead of enemy. Because only with the concerted efforts we can win this war against virus," she said.
"But regrettably, we see some in the US officials shifting the blame which we believe is wrong”, she said.
While China contained the virus attack in over two months, the US being highly developed country has not succeeded yet, she said.
Since emerging in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the coronavirus is confirmed to have infected 1.2 million Americans, killing more than 73,000.
Hua sounded ambivalent about China agreeing for an inquiry by the WHO into the origin of the coronavirus.
Asked about reports that Chen Xu, China's ambassador to UN institutions in Geneva, backed the WHO probe, Hua said, "we have never said we oppose WHO. We have been supporting WHO's work. (We're) Cooperating with WHO in an open and transparent manner including tracing the origin."
"At an appropriate time we will have a conclusion on that. But we oppose the US and some other countries trying to politicise this issue and conduct investigations on the presumption of guilt,” she said.
"So in the future if it is good for human beings to deal with similar pandemics in future Chinese side can do whatever it can to achieve good results and make all the contributions”, she said.
She reiterated that the issue of the origin of coronavirus is a scientific matter and should be assessed by scientists and professionals.
Besides attacking China over the coronavirus emanating from Wuhan, Trump is also deeply critical of WHO accusing it of siding with Beijing in mismanaging and covering up the spread of the virus. He also suspended over USD 400 million funding for the WHO pending an inquiry.