Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi doubts the coronavirus originated in China

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide will hold a press conference in Oslo, Norway on August 27, 2020. Heiko Junge / NTB Scanpix / via REUTERS EDITORIALS FOR COMMENT – This image was provided by a third party . NOWAY OUT. NOW COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALE IN NORWAY.

OSLO (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Wang Yi, said on Thursday that it was unclear whether the corona virus first appeared in China, and doubted the views of health experts and foreign governments.

Speaking during a visit to Norway, Wang said that while China was the first country to report the virus to the World Health Organization, “it does not mean that the virus originated in China”.

“In fact, we’ve seen reports in recent months … showing that the virus originated in different parts of the world, and may have originated earlier than in China,” Wang told reporters, speaking through an interpreter.

Health authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan reported the first case of what appeared to be the new coronavirus in December, and linked the first known death to the virus in early January.

“Where did the virus first begin and how did it begin … should be left to scientists and medical experts … It should not be politicized or stigmatized,” Wang said, in an apparent reprimand from U.S. President Donald Trump , which is critical of describing the coronavirus as the “China virus”.

“Who is patient zero? It is still unknown, “said Wang, who visited Norway after visiting the Netherlands and Italy earlier this week in his first visit to Norway by a Chinese foreign minister since 2006.

Norway, a close US ally and member of NATO, will be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2011 and 2022. China is one of the five permanent members of the Council.

Report by Gwladys Fouche; Edited by Alistair Bell

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