China criticizes U.S. COVID origin report

China on Wednesday pushed back against U.S. efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus ahead of the release of a U.S. intelligence report intended to resolve various theories on how the virus emerged.

It includes a once-dismissed theory about a Chinese lab leak.

Though U.S. officials don't expect the review to lead to firm conclusions.

That's after they said China hampered international investigations on the ground in Wuhan this year where infections first emerged in late 2019.

In response to the upcoming report, Chinese foreign ministry's Director-General of Arms Control, Fu Cong, suggested tit-for-tat investigations into American labs.

"We do not see the need at this stage to continue with this lab leak hypothesis. But that is only our wish and we can accept any follow up on this hypothesis if the U.S. on the basis of reciprocity agrees that they're going to accept similar visits."

Beijing has ridiculed the theory that COVID-19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan.

Instead, China's suggested without public evidence that the virus slipped out of a lab at a U.S. army base in Maryland.

Chinese diplomats this week once again called upon the World Health Organization to investigate.

U.S. President Joe Biden was briefed on the classified report earlier this week, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday.

Psaki added the intelligence bureau is QUOTE "working expeditiously" to prepare an unclassified version for the public, but did not provide a timeline.

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