From Xinhua News Agency, Jan. 14, 2020. Complete text:

Beijing – Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in Wuhan Thursday [Jan. 14] to conduct scientific cooperation in tracing the origin of COVID-19 with Chinese scientists. The arrangement shows that China stands ready to enhance cooperation with the WHO and keeps an open, transparent and responsible attitude toward global origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus.

Identifying the origin of COVID-19 is a scientific issue, which requires careful and meticulous study before tenable conclusions can be reached. The tracing work should be jointly studied by scientists from all over the world. The visit of the WHO experts to Wuhan is one such scientific study and exchange, and is by no means a politically driven “investigation” into who is to blame for the pandemic. Groundless conjecture or hyping of the issue will only disrupt normal international cooperation on origin-tracing.

A handful of Western politicians have long spread rumors on the origin of COVID-19 to shift blame to China and cover up their own incompetence in tackling domestic issues. These actions have not only contributed to their failure in controlling the spread of the virus in their own countries but also seriously imperiled global solidarity in mounting a COVID-19 response. It is time for scientists all over the world to stand firm against political interference and focus on facts in origin-tracing. China expects and supports the WHO experts to fulfill their mission by adopting a scientific, professional, objective and prudent approach to this issue.

The country has taken the lead in working together with the WHO on origin-tracing since the outbreak of COVID-19. In February and July last year, despite the arduous task of prevention and control of the disease, China invited WHO experts to come to China twice. Chinese experts and WHO and international experts also held frequent interactions through video conferences and seminars, sharing the outcomes China has achieved and the global progress in origin-tracing in a candid and science-based manner.

Origin-tracing is an evolving process that may involve many countries and places. China’s proactive communication with the WHO and the experts’ visit to China does not mean that China is the country where COVID-19 came from. Being the first country to report the novel coronavirus outbreak does not necessarily indicate that the virus originated in Wuhan.

In fact, many reports and scientific papers have shown that the virus had emerged in multiple countries as early as late 2019. The virus was also found on samples from imported frozen food packaging. This proves once again that tracing the origin of the novel coronavirus is an extremely complicated task that must be taken very seriously in a scientific approach.

China, as a responsible major country, has made all-out efforts in containing the spread of the virus and contributed to mankind’s battle against the pandemic with its hard-won experience and know-hows. Scientific cooperation with the WHO experts will help improve the understanding of the virus, and better prevent and control new outbreaks of infectious diseases in the future.

The world will gain new insight into this virus if all parties follow the principles of science, and will be better prepared for similar public health crises if other countries can join China in actively cooperating with the WHO. Those who choose instead to spread conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus should be careful what they wish for.