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The U.S. is conducting an investigation into whether the virus somehow escaped from a lab in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the pandemic that has resulted in unprecedented lockdowns and crippled the global economy.
“Any objective person will see that some U.S. politicians have been peddling lies that discredit China's anti-epidemic efforts to fuddle people's minds and deflect attention from the fact that they fell short of fulfilling their own anti-epidemic responsibilities,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday.
Shuang's statement was in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called for inspections at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other labs where Chinese scientists study coronaviruses and other pathogens.
"There are multiple labs inside of China that are handling these things," Pompeo said Wednesday at the State Department. "It’s important that those materials are being handled in a safe and secure way such that there isn’t accidental release.
"We have to make sure that the Chinese Government is handling those materials in an appropriate way not only in the Wuhan Institute of Virology but elsewhere," he added.
Beijing has refuted claims that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory. Intelligence operatives have begun gathering information about the Wuhan lab and are piecing together a timeline of the events following the outbreak.
U.S. officials told Fox News they have ruled out the possibility of a man-made coronavirus to be used as a bioweapon. Instead, they believe it was part of China's attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States,
Some officials believe China purposefully covered up the virus and that the World Health Organization (WHO) is complicit. President Trump took aim at the WHO over its role in the crisis and announced last week that the U.S. will halt all funding to the group, saying it had put "political correctness over lifesaving measures."
Pompeo blasted the WHO during a Wednesday appearance on "The Ingraham Angle," saying it failed to help the U.S. gather crucial date from China.
"Look, we know it began at one [lab], but we need to figure this out," he said. "There's an ongoing pandemic. We still don't have the transparency and openness we need in China."
In a show of support, China pledged to donate $30 million to the WHO, in addition to a separate $20 million cash donation.
"Our donations demonstrate the Chinese government and people's support for and trust in the WHO," Shuang said.