Dr. Anthony Fauci has defended U.S. funding of research at a Wuhan lab studying whether coronaviruses from bats could be transmitted to humans.
But during Monday's talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the highest-ranking Biden administration envoy to visit China, China encouraged the U.S. to stop "demonising" it following the latest comments about the Wuhan Covid-19 lab leak..
"The hope may be that by demonising China, the U.S. could somehow...blame China for its structural problems," China's foreign ministry said in a statement, adding the relationship between the nations is in a "stalemate and faces serious difficulties."
Meanwhile, the theory that the virus was leaked from a lab is completely nonsense, said two-time Oscar winner British director Malcolm Clarke in an interview with China Youth Daily.
The hypothesis simply serves as a handy tool to attack China, Clarke said.
The "lab-leak" theory, which has been repeatedly refuted and denounced by scientists from different countries since last year, has gained traction again since May.
Fauci, under attack for his role in funding research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has admitted the U.S. gave the China lab hundreds of thousands of dollars for research.
"It was a...proposal that was peer-reviewed and given a very high rating for the importance of why it should be done," Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN anchor Jake Tapper Sunday's "State of the Union."
The NIH gave WIV roughly $600,000 to study bat coronaviruses as a sub-grant funneled through the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which has been at the center of conspiracy theories about the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fauci argued that it was necessary to pursue the research.
Fauci, however, denied the funding was specifically for the dangerous "gain of function" research, wherein scientists alter a virus to boost transmissibility.
Such alterations hope to develop vaccines, but create deadlier strains. Some speculate one such strain was actually developed and escaped the Wuhan lab.
Tapper said some experts consider studies conducted by the Wuhan Institute to be potentially dangerous.
He asked whether Fauci thought the U.S. should team up with laboratories like WIV, especially considering the China government oversees its research.
Fauci responded by saying the goal of the China studies in question is to complete a "survey" of what was happening among the bat population, "because everyone in the world was trying to figure out what the original source" of the virus was, The New York Post said.
Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky accused Fauci last week of lying to Congress about whether the U.S. funded the gain of function research at the Wuhan lab.
Paul has had several heated exchanges with Fauci in hearings before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, The Deadline said.
Fauci said it was critical that the study be made in China since that is where the disease first emerged.