National security adviser Jake Sullivan admitted Sunday that President Joe Biden will not pressure China to cooperate with investigations into the origins of COVID-19, but instead will rely upon the intelligence community and the World Health Organization.
The theory that COVID-19 originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is now a leading theory of the pandemic's emergence, despite the idea being dismissed as a "conspiracy theory" during the height of the pandemic.
What are the details?
Speaking with CNN host Dana Bash on "State of the Union," Sullivan revealed that the Biden administration will not, at least right now, take action against Beijing to force China's cooperation.
"We are not, at this point, going to issue threats or ultimatums," Sullivan said. "What we're going to do is continue to rally support in the international community."
"And if it turns out that China refuses to live up to its international obligations, we will have to consider our responses at that point, and we will do so in concert with allies and partners," he added.
Instead, Sullivan explained the Biden administration is relying on diplomacy, the American intelligence community, and even the WHO to get to the bottom of COVID-19's emergence.
"One track is an intelligence community assessment that President Biden ordered. That has a 90-day clock on it. And, in August, the intelligence community will report back," Sullivan said. "The second track is an international investigation led by the World Health Organization, for which President Biden has rallied democratic partners to say there must be access to China to be able to get the data necessary to understand what happened here."
Bash, however, pointed out the obvious: It sounds like the Biden administration is "lying down" and giving China more time.
"I will repeat what I said before. We're not going to simply accept China saying no," Sullivan conceded. "But we will work between now and when this second phase of the WHO investigation is fully under way to have as strong a consensus in the international community as possible, because it is from that position of strength that we will best be able to deal with China."
Why does this matter?
The Biden administration's refusal to take action against China is significant because the U.S. government may be the only body capable of exerting enough pressure on Beijing to make inroads on investigations into COVID-19.
China has demonstrated thus far that it will not cooperate with investigations by international bodies like the WHO, making America's reliance on the WHO highly questionable.
In fact, the WHO already has conducted an investigation into COVID-19 and Wuhan, concluding that COVID's emergence from the Wuhan bio lab was "extremely unlikely."
Jamie Metzl, an advisory board member for the WHO, later revealed China has engaged in a "massive cover-up" and that WHO investigators simply accepted what Beijing told them about COVID-19.
"The Chinese have engaged in a massive cover-up that is going on until this day, involving destroying samples, hiding records, placing a universal gag order on Chinese scientists and imprisoning Chinese citizen journalists asking the most basic question," Metzl said on Fox News.
On CBS, Metzl explained of the WHO investigation, "Everybody around the world is imagining this is some kind of full investigation. It's not. This group of experts only saw what the Chinese government wanted them to see."