China official insists COVID lab-leak theory 'absurd' in Blinken call

Republicans seek China sanctions for role in COVID-19 pandemic

Fox News Washington correspondent Rich Edson has the details on ‘Special Report’

A top Chinese diplomat told Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday that the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan is an “absurd story,” the country’s state media reported.

Yang Jiechi, the head of Beijing’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission, also told Blinken that the U.S. should approach issues surrounding the island nation of Taiwan “carefully and appropriately,” according to CCTV.

The statement added that Blinken and Yang discussed other contentious issues between the U.S. and China, including “the deterioration of democratic norms in Hong Kong and the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

The theory that the virus accidentally leaked from a lab that was doing research on bat coronaviruses has gained traction after The Wall Street Journal revealed last month that a U.S. intelligence report revealed that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital treatment for an unidentified illness in November 2019, when researchers say the virus was spreading through the city of 11 million people.

The Journal reported earlier this week that a top U.S. government laboratory had reported in May 2020 that the “lab leak” theory was plausible and should be studied further.

Yang, however, suggested that Washington was merely engaging in politics.

“We urge the United States to respect facts and science, refrain from politicizing the issue … and focus on international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.

Meanwhile, Biden has recently updated an executive order banning U.S. investment in companies linked to China’s military and rolled out steps aimed at China that shore up U.S. supply chains. His trade representative, Katherine Tai, had a call with Taiwan officials, the Pentagon wrapped up a China policy review, and the Senate passed a sweeping package of China-focused legislation.

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