Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: US ambassador urges China to be ‘more honest’ about Covid origins

US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said Monday that China will have to “be more honest about what happened three years ago in Wuhan with the origin of the Covid-19 crisis” if the US and China are going to be able to work together. Burns added that the Chinese surveillance balloon and Beijing’s position on the war in Ukraine are “two of the most important issues that we’re dealing with right now.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/27/politics/china-covid-origins-us/index.html) Burns’ comments on Covid were made in reference to strengthening the World Health Organization, in response to a question about political polarization in the US and how it impacts America’s standing and ability to tackle geopolitical challenges. Burns was speaking at a US Chamber of Commerce event the day after news emerged that the Department of Energy assessed with “low confidence” that the deadly pandemic likely originated from a lab leak. While Burns was not speaking specifically about the latest assessment, the Department of Energy’s new finding underscores how US intelligence agencies remain divided on the origins of the pandemic – in part because Beijing has not been cooperative with efforts to investigate the matter.

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