The White House refused to say whether President Joe Biden pressed Chinese dictator Xi Jinping on the origins of COVID-19 during their virtual meeting this week.
When asked whether Biden called on Xi to be more transparent about the pandemic’s beginning, especially as the World Health Organization tries to conduct another investigation into it, the Biden administration issued a vague response, according to the Washington Examiner.
“The two leaders did talk about both COVID and broader health security issues in terms [of] bringing to an end the current pandemic and the importance of donating vaccines,” a senior administration official said in a statement. “President Biden also talked about the importance of preventing future pandemics and the important role that transparency plays in addressing global health issues.”
The readout from Biden’s call with Xi did not mention COVID-19 nor investigations into the virus’s origins. All it mentioned was that Biden “raised specific transnational challenges where our interests intersect, such as health security.”
The Chinese readout from the meeting says Xi, at one point, said to Biden: “Response to any major disease must be based on science. Politicizing diseases does no good but only harm.”
China has repeatedly stonewalled efforts to investigate COVID-19’s origins. A top WHO official admitted earlier this year that the agency downplayed the theory that the virus escaped from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in its first origins report because Chinese officials demanded it.
“It probably means there’s a human error behind such an event, and they’re not very happy to admit that,” Peter Embarek explained.
“The whole system focuses a lot on being infallible, and everything must be perfect,” he continued. “Somebody could also wish to hide something. Who knows?”