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China risks isolation in quest for coronavirus origin, Biden aide says, United States News & Top Stories

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – China will risk international isolation if it fails to allow a “real” investigation on its territory into the origins of the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Sullivan’s comments follow last week’s call by Group of Seven leaders including US President Joe Biden for another probe into how the virus originated. Biden last month ordered the US intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to determine where the coronavirus came from and to report back in 90 days.

The goal is to present China with “a stark choice: Either they will allow, in a responsible way, investigators in to do the real work of figuring out where this came from, or they will face isolation in the international community,” Sullivan said in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

The United States will continue pressing in cooperation with its allies and partners “until we get to the bottom of how this virus came into the world and who has accountability for that”.

China has rejected the theory that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were reported.

Sullivan’s comments were “sheer blackmail and threat,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday (June 21) at a regular briefing in Beijing.

“Accusing China of saying no to the investigation is totally groundless,” he said. “It is even more alarmist to say that China is facing international isolation.”

The World Health Organisation, which previously sent a mission to China to report on the virus origins, is expected to lead a second probe separately from the US intelligence effort.

“We are not at this point going to issue threats or ultimatums,” Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union. If China doesn’t live up to its obligations, “we will have to consider our responses at that point and we will do so in concert with allies and partners”, he said.

“We’re not going to simply accept China saying no,” Sullivan said.

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