USA using press freedom to ‘play double standards’: China

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US biggest funder, doer of coronavirus research, alleges Beijing. China on Friday accused the US of “playing double standards” in the name of press freedom.

“The US is just using press freedom as a cover to advance its real agenda of suppressing China. It is only trying to justify its open double standard, hegemony and bullying with a high-sounding pretext,” China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a news conference in Beijing.

“With regard to the US, it is not just a matter of ‘can do better’ on journalists and press freedom, but an urgent need to redress mistakes and seek improvement. The US should reflect upon itself and stop wanton attacks on China. One can only earn respect from others with proper self-conduct,” a statement by the ministry quoted Zhao as saying.

The statement from Beijing came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted: “The United States is deeply concerned by the increasing trend of surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of foreign journalists in China. The People’s Republic of China can and must do better.”

“The US should not forget the following facts: since 2018, the US has denied visa to more than 20 Chinese journalists without cause. It has designated several Chinese media’s US offices as foreign missions and placed a cap on their number of staff, expelling in all but name 60 Chinese journalists. It has also imposed the discriminatory restrictive measure of issuing to all Chinese journalists a mere three-month stay visa,” Zhao explained.

Reacting to the demand of fresh probe into origins of the coronavirus, Zhao asked the US to publish data on early coronavirus cases.

“The US has been busy with politicization, stigmatization, and turning origin-tracing study into its tool. It has made lying, vilifying and coercing its standard practice without any respect for facts, science and justice,” the spokesperson said.

He said the US should invite World Health Organization to probe Fort Detrick and its over 200 overseas biological labs.

“The international community and the American public have long voiced concerns about the illegal, obscure and unsafe activities in Fort Detrick. The research institute, long engaged in coronavirus studies and modification, had serious safety accidents and was shut down in 2019,” Zhao alleged.

“The US should invite WHO experts to investigate the University of North Carolina. The US has been accusing the Wuhan Institute of Virology of introducing COVID-19 with its coronavirus studies. In fact, however, the US is the biggest sponsor and practitioner of such kind of researches in the world. The team of Ralph S. Baric, particularly, is the authority of such kind of research with extremely mature capability in synergizing and modifying coronavirus,” he added.

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