The Corner


Why Didn’t Joe Biden Press Xi Jinping on the Investigation into COVID-19’s Origin?

President Joe Biden, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington, D.C., November 15, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Do you know what words did not appear in the White House readout of President Biden’s virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping?

“COVID-19,” “pandemic,” “origin,” “Wuhan Institute of Virology,” “World Health Organization,” “investigation” or “You guys started a global pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people around the world because your virus research labs don’t operate safely.”

The closest the White House summary came to mentioning the pandemic is when it stated that Biden “raised specific transnational challenges where our interests intersect, such as health security.” There is no indication that Biden brought up the Chinese government’s refusal to turn over key data from the earliest days of the pandemic to the World Health Organization.

Throughout the year, Biden administration officials such as Tony Blinken insisted that China must cooperate with the WHO. And yet, this week, it just wasn’t important enough an issue to bring up specifically.

The statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry offered much more detail. The CFA readout of the meeting declared, “President Xi stressed that a sound and stable China-US relationship is required for advancing the two countries’ respective development and for safeguarding a peaceful and stable international environment, including finding effective responses to global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In fact, the Chinese summary included a whole section on the pandemic, that the White House summary left out entirely:

On public health, President Xi pointed out that the pandemic once again proves that humanity lives in a community with a shared future. There is no higher priority than people’s lives. Solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon for the international community to defeat COVID-19. Response to any major disease must be based on science. Politicizing diseases does no good but only harm. The pressing priority in the global COVID response is to address the vaccine deficits and close the vaccination gap. President Xi said that he suggested making COVID vaccines a global public good at the early stage of the pandemic last year, and put forth a Global Vaccine Cooperation Action Initiative just recently. China is among the first to offer vaccines to developing countries in need, delivering over 1.7 billion doses of finished and bulk vaccines to the world. We will consider making additional donations in light of the needs of developing countries. COVID-19 will not be the last public health crisis facing humanity. China and the US need to call for the establishment of a cooperation mechanism for global public health and communicable disease prevention and control, and promote further international exchanges and cooperation.

(The Chinese statement also declared that, “President Xi pointed out that the Chinese people have always loved and valued peace. Aggression or hegemony is not in the blood of the Chinese nation. Since the founding of the People’s Republic, China has never started a single war or conflict, and has never taken one inch of land from other countries.” Tibet could not be reached for comment, nor does this statement align with China’s ongoing territorial and maritime disputes with Taiwan, Bhutan, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Nepal, Vietnam, and Japan.)

Back in October, the Japan Times noticed that after the U.S. intelligence community completed its inconclusive 90-day review, the Biden administration seemed to lose interest in the origin of COVID-19. “Biden should have ordered the U.S. intelligence community to keep searching for the true origins of the virus until a definitive conclusion could be reached. By not extending the inquiry’s 90-day deadline, Biden in effect gave the Chinese what they wanted,” the paper wrote.

In today’s New York Post, former State Department official David Asher contends that Biden is acting like he doesn’t want to know the origins of COVID-19:

It’s no coincidence Biden refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether he would demand answers from Xi at the summit. One of his first acts on assuming the presidency was to shut down the investigations into the origins of COVID-19 — including the one I led at the State Department in 2020, which presented troubling scientific and circumstantial evidence on the secret activities of the WIV that bolster the lab-leak theory.

In May 2021, when media interest in the lab-leak theory became impossible to ignore, Biden ordered a time-bound intelligence review of the origins question. This was a clear gambit to buy time and give the appearance of action on the issue. When the intelligence community essentially shrugged and said, “We’ll never know for sure,” the president was similarly phlegmatic and has shown zero interest in pursuing the issue further.

It’s clear that the administration sees a robust investigation into COVID’s origins as an impediment to its China reset and has basically become a party to the Chinese Communist coverup.

There’s an easy way for the Biden administration to dispel the criticism of Asher, the Japan Times, and others. Talk about what is known about the origin of COVID-19, the considerable circumstantial evidence of a lab leak, and what the U.S. government is doing to figure out what caused the worst global pandemic in a century — and who will be held accountable. Even if this pandemic had a zoonotic origin, the Chinese government still spent the first three to six weeks misleading the world, insisting the virus as was not contagious even as doctors were catching the virus from their patients.


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