CHINA / DIPLOMACY
Washington Post report on WHO expert changing tone in virus origins is ‘fake news’: Chinese FM
Published: Aug 16, 2021 08:42 PM
Peter Ben Embarek (center), Marion Koopmans (right) and other members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the coronavirus, are seen on a balcony at the Wuhan Hilton Optics Valley Hotel in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province on Monday. Photo: AFP

Peter Ben Embarek (center), Marion Koopmans (right) and other members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the coronavirus, are seen on a balcony at the Wuhan Hilton Optics Valley Hotel in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province on Monday. Photo: AFP



 Jumping on an interview the program manager of World Health Organization (WHO) did with a Danish media, the Washington Post claimed the expert overturned his previous statement that it is "extremely unlikely" that the novel coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan lab. Spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Washington Post report is "fake news," and that there were mistakes in translation. The ministry also said the Danish media distorted the WHO expert's remarks in the interview, which was done a few months ago.

In comments broadcast by Denmark's state-owned TV 2, Peter Ben Embarek was quoted by the television as saying that it was "likely" that the pandemic began when a bat infected a human, and the infection may well have happened by collecting -- or working with -- bats in connection with the research that took place at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Washington Post subsequently wrote: "asked in the documentary whether the report's 'extremely unlikely' wording about the lab-leak theory was a Chinese requirement, Ben Embarek said 'it was the category we chose to put it in at the end, yes.' But he added that this didn't mean it was impossible, just not likely."

Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Chinese FM, said that the Washington Post report is "fake news." Hua pointed out that the US media report also said Ben Embarek said the interview had been mistranslated in the Dannish media's English-language coverage. She added that WHO spokesperson also said that there is mistranslation.

The interview was done a few months ago, and the Danish media chose to broadcast it now and misinterpreted Embarek's remarks, and distorted his opinion, said Hua, noting that as head of the WHO team, Embarek has always upheld the conclusion of the WHO-China joint report, which said that a Wuhan laboratory incident is "extremely unlikely."

Hua said that the WHO-China joint report has become the guidance for global search of coronavirus origins, and any attempt to overturn it is political manipulation and a disrespect of scientists around the world. 

Yuan Zhiming, professor at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, also said last week that the statement that the coronavirus was made in the Wuhan lab is groundless.

Global Times


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