A prominent Chinese official claims the United States military could have brought the novel coronavirus to China -- and it did not originate in the city of Wuhan, as thought.
Posting to his more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian republished a video of Robert Redfield, the director for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, addressing a US Congressional committee on March 11.
In the clip, Redfield said some influenza deaths in the US were later identified as cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Redfield didn't say when those people had died or over what time period, but Zhao pointed to his remarks as proof of a growing conspiracy theory that the coronavirus did not originate in Hubei province in central China.
"CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!" the Foreign Ministry official said.
Hundreds of athletes from the US military were in Wuhan for the Military World Games in October 2019.
The video of Redfield was also published to Twitter by other state media outlets, including national broadcaster CCTV and the popular Global Times tabloid.
On Friday, Zhao's fellow Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said there were "varied opinions" on the origin of the virus in the international community.
"China always considers this a scientific question, which should be addressed in a scientific and professional manner," he said, avoiding questions on whether Zhao's tweet represented the Chinese government's official position.