Biden Pushes China to Release 'Critical' COVID Info After Beijing Warns of 'Counterattack'

President Joe Biden has vowed to continue the investigation into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed China to release "critical information" that's being withheld.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already strained relationship between the United States and China, with Beijing accusing U.S. officials of capitalizing on the pandemic for political purposes. Seeing themselves as being unfairly targeted, China's stopped cooperating with international investigations, and without Beijing's help, the origin of COVID-19 could remain a mystery.

After being briefed on the Intelligence Community's report on the origin of COVID-19, Biden acknowledged that China's inability to be transparent is hindering investigations into the virus' origin and accused them of withholding information.

"Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People's Republic of China, yet from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it," Biden said in a statement on Friday.

After 90 days, the Intelligence Community was still unable to draw a definitive conclusion about the origin of COVID-19, something they partially blamed on a lack of clinical samples from the earliest days of the pandemic. Drawing a conclusion would also require the Intelligence Community to have new information that allows it to determine initial contact with an animal or that a laboratory in Wuhan was handling SARS-CoV-2.

One issue the Intelligence Community was able to reach a broad agreement on was that Chinese officials didn't have advance knowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak. They were, however, torn on how the pandemic began.

joe biden covid origin china counterattack
President Joe Biden said he will pressure China to be transparent about how the COVID-19 origin began. Biden speaks during a meeting about cybersecurity in the East Room of the White House on August 25 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The most common belief was that the COVID-19 pandemic began naturally, spreading from animals to humans. However, one agency of the Intelligence Community had "moderate confidence" that it started when someone at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became infected. Some elements of the Intelligence Community couldn't come to an agreement on how the pandemic began, either because analysts disagreed on the origin or thought both were equally likely.

Beijing has vehemently denied the pandemic began as the result of a laboratory accident and condemned those who pushed the possibility for seeking to push an anti-China agenda. After Biden asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to find the origin, Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-run newspaper the Global Times, called for China to ramp up its nuclear program.

The Global Times also called it "ridiculous" for the Intelligence Community to be investigating the origin, as it's a scientific issue, and said if Biden looks to further investigate the origin it will make him a "laughing stock." On Wednesday, Fu Cong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's director-general, said the U.S. should be "prepared to accept the counterattack" if America wants to "baselessly accuse China."

While former President Donald Trump outright blamed China for the pandemic, often referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus," Biden has sought to strike a stern but more politically refined tone. On Friday, he said, "responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world," referencing Beijing's withholding of information.

"We needed this information rapidly, from the PRC, while the pandemic was still new," Biden said. "We must have a full and transparent accounting of this global tragedy. Nothing less is acceptable."