China Lashes Out at New House Committee on Countering Beijing, Dismissing Lab Leak Theory

Beijing’s Foreign Ministry decries what it calls a ‘zero-sum Cold War mentality.’

AP/Liu Zheng
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Mao Ning, at Beijing on March 1, 2023. AP/Liu Zheng

BEIJING — Communist China lashed out Wednesday at a new House committee dedicated to countering Beijing, demanding its members “discard their ideological bias and zero-sum Cold War mentality,” while dismissing American suggestions that the Covid pandemic may have been triggered by a Chinese laboratory leak.

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party must “view China and China-U.S. relations in an objective and rational light,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Mao Ning said at a daily briefing.

Responding to comments on the potential lab leak by FBI Director Christopher Wray, Ms. Mao said the involvement of the American intelligence community was evidence enough of the “politicization of origin tracing.”

“By rehashing the lab-leak theory, the U.S. will not succeed in discrediting China, and instead, it will only hurt its own credibility,” Ms. Mao said.

In an interview with Fox News that aired Tuesday, Mr. Wray said, “The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in (central China’s) Wuhan.”

“Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab,” Mr. Wray said.

Ms. Mao urged America “to respect science and facts … stop turning origin tracing into something about politics and intelligence, and stop disrupting social solidarity and origins cooperation.”

The House committee began its work Tuesday with a primetime hearing in which its chairman called on lawmakers to act with urgency, framing the competition between America and China as “an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century.”

“We demand the relevant U.S. institutions and individuals discard their ideological bias and zero-sum Cold War mentality,” Ms. Mao said. They must “stop framing China as a threat by quoting disinformation, stop denigrating the Communist Party of China and stop trying to score political points at the expense of China-U.S. relations.”

Relations between the U.S. and China have hit their lowest level in years, with both countries enacting retaliatory tariffs and trading accusations over China’s opaque response to the Covid pandemic.

China’s aggression toward Taiwan, drive to assert control over the South China Sea and the recent flight of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the U.S. have fueled lawmakers’ desire to do more to counter Beijing. 

Testifying to the strength of those concerns, the 365-65 vote to create the committee was bipartisan, a rarity in the deeply divided Congress.

The committee’s chairman, Representative Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin who has been a fierce critic of Beijing, said the Chinese government has found friends on Wall Street and in lobbyists in Washington who are ready to oppose the committee’s efforts.

“Time is not on our side. Just because this Congress is divided, we cannot afford to waste the next two years lingering in legislative limbo or pandering for the press,” Mr. Gallagher said. “We must act with a sense of urgency.”

Addressing worries the new committee could stir more anti-Asian hate crimes, Mr. Gallagher said he is committed to ensuring the focus is on the Chinese Communist Party, not on the people of China.

Tuesday’s hearing was interrupted by two protesters, one saying, “this committee is about saber rattling, it’s not about peace.” Both were ushered out by police.


The New York Sun

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