WASHINGTON — President Biden smirked and walked away Wednesday when The Post asked why he hasn’t done more to push China to be transparent on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden was stone-faced when asked about his own responsibility for the US crossing 800,000 pandemic deaths — before breaking into a broad grin when asked about China.
“On 800,000 coronavirus deaths, do you have a statement on your responsibility, and why haven’t you asked China to do more to be transparent on the [virus] origins?” The Post asked the president on the White House lawn.
Biden, departing to tour tornado damage in Kentucky, gave no answer as he smiled and waved off the question. It was the only query to which he did not verbally respond.
The president gave a similar reaction to The Post on Nov. 8, when he also listened to an inquiry about pushing China for answers before walking away.
President Biden failed to answer why he hasn’t done more to push China to be transparent on the origins of the COVID-19 when asked by The Post on Dec. 15, 2021.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The president was more forthcoming when asked about possible talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid Ukraine tensions, saying, “we will be talking at length.” Biden also answered reporter questions on the House of Representatives holding former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt and about negotiations over his social spending plan, the Build Back Better Act.
The 800,000-death milestone comes nearly 11 months after Biden took office amid a mass-vaccination push and following a campaign in which he vowed to effectively manage the coronavirus outbreak. Former President Donald Trump left office with 400,000 confirmed COVID deaths over more than 10 months — roughly the same period of time.
Biden didn’t push for transparency on how the pandemic began during a 3 1/2 hour virtual summit last month with Chinese President Xi Jinping, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated.
The US intelligence community said in August that it’s possible the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, calling the theory one of two “plausible” explanations along with transmission from animals.
COIVD-19 has killed more than 800,000 people in the US.AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File
Biden has said virtually nothing about pushing for information on the pandemic’s origins — with the exception of a written statement attributed to him following the spy agency review, which said he would push tirelessly for answers.
“[W]hile this [US spy agency] review has concluded, our efforts to understand the origins of this pandemic will not rest. We will do everything we can to trace the roots of this outbreak that has caused so much pain and death around the world, so that we can take every necessary precaution to prevent it from happening again,” that statement said.
“Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People’s Republic of China, yet from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it. To this day, the PRC continues to reject calls for transparency and withhold information, even as the toll of this pandemic continue to rise. We needed this information rapidly, from the PRC, while the pandemic was still new.”
That written statement attributed to Biden continued: “The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them. Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world. Pandemics do not respect international borders, and we all must better understand how COVID-19 came to be in order to prevent further pandemics.”
The US “will continue working with like-minded partners around the world to press the PRC to fully share information and to cooperate with the World Health Organization’s Phase II evidence-based, expert-led determination into the origins of COVID-19,” that Biden-attributed statement went on. “We must have a full and transparent accounting of this global tragedy. Nothing less is acceptable.”
It’s unclear if Biden personally participated in drafting that statement or reviewed it before distribution. The White House has not said why he chose to ignore the topic while speaking with Xi.
Biden campaigned on a pledge to effectively manage the COVID-19 outbreak.AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File
Documents published in September by the Intercept revealed that US health officials indirectly funded “gain of function” research at the Wuhan lab that sought to better understand viruses by manipulating them — including modifying three bat coronaviruses distinct from COVID-19 and discovering they became much more infectious among “humanized” mice when human-type receptors were added to them.
Until recently, first son Hunter Biden held a 10 percent stake in a Chinese investment fund controlled by state-owned entities. The firm, called BHR Partners, was registered 12 days after Hunter joined then-Vice President Biden aboard Air Force Two for a 2013 trip to Beijing.
The first son’s lawyer said he recently divested his stake, but he and the White House have provided no details and the terms are not publicly known. It’s not clear how much money changed hands, who acquired the stake in the company and whether the transaction occurred before or after Biden’s virtual meeting with Xi.