HHS Official: U.S. can’t confirm coronavirus is related to Chinese bioweapon research

In this Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, photo, medical workers transfer a new coronavirus patient at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. Chinese authorities on Monday reported a slight upturn in new virus cases and hundred more deaths for a total of thousands since the outbreak began two months ago. (Chinatopix via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:05 PM PT — Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A top Trump administration official recently shot down rumors suggesting the coronavirus is a Chinese bioweapon. While speaking to reporters at an event in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, the assistant secretary for health said they currently have no information to prove it is a manufactured virus.

Admiral Brett Giroir’s response came after members of Congress questioned the claim by China that the disease came from an animal at a market in Wuhan. The Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary went on to say health officials are trying to confirm that information amid work toward a cure.

“What we have done with our policies is we’ve bought time and time is really important,” he stated. “We have a very good diagnostic test devised by the CDC and you know there were some things that needed to be worked out in some of the controls, but it is a good diagnostic test.”

The Trump administration reportedly offered to send scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study the virus in China more than a month ago, but Chinese leaders have yet to approve.

So far, the coronavirus has spread to more than 71,000 people globally and has killed nearly 2,000 people in China.

RELATED:More passengers to leave cruise ship in Cambodia after coronavirus tests

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DOJ announces charges against Chinese nationals for 2017 Equifax security breach

Attorney General William Barr speaks during a news conference, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, at the Justice Department in Washington, as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Seth Ducharm looks on. Four members of the Chinese military have been charged with breaking into the networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:43 AM PT — Monday, February 10, 2020

The Department of Justice recently announced charges against several Chinese nationals in connection with the massive Equifax data breach.

In a news conference Monday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were behind the hack that affected 150 million Americans.

The 2017 breach resulted in the theft of names, social security numbers and personal information of American citizens as well as the theft of trade secrets from Equifax. The hack has been described as one of the largest in history.

“This kind of attack on American industry is of a piece with other Chinese illegal acquisitions of sensitive personal data,” stated Attorney General Barr. “For years, we have witnessed China’s voracious appetite for the personal data of Americans.”

The indictment charges the alleged hackers with computer fraud, conspiracy to commit economic espionage and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

This comes as the Trump administration continues to warn of the “growing political and economic influence” of China.

RELATED: U.S. Charges Four Chinese Military Hackers In 2017 Equifax Breach

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Videos show Chinese officials using force to quarantine residents

In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, photo, a medical worker in a protective suit walks by patients who diagnosed with the coronaviruses settle at a temporary hospital which transformed from an exhibition center in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. (Chinatopix via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:48 AM PT — Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Chinese government has come under fire for allegedly using excessive force to quarantine areas affected by the coronavirus outbreak. New videos showed Chinese officials breaking into homes and taking people into isolation by force.

The disturbing footage has sparked concerns that China could be using the epidemic as a pretext to detain dissidents and critics of the regime. Beijing reported 11 million people have been quarantined in and around the city of Wuhan so far.

The UN warned against potential human rights violations amid the virus outbreak.

“All of a sudden, people that have nothing to do with it are stigmatized for any reasons,” stated UN Secretary General António Guterres. “So, I think it’s important to keep the very strong human rights perspective in the way the international community deals with the coronavirus.”

Chinese officials have said they are asking residents in certain areas to self-quarantine for 14 days. They claimed they are only detaining the violators.

Passengers from the cruise ship “World Dream” docked at Kai Tak cruise terminal, wave to family members on shore in Hong Kong, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. denied claims that Beijing is refusing to cooperate with the U.S. on battling the coronavirus. On Sunday, Ambassador Cui Tiankai said China would welcome CDC experts’ help in researching the virus.

Tiankai argued it is still not clear what the virus is and how it affects people. His remarks came amid allegations of a potential government cover-up of the true scale of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ambassador added China is working with the international community to prevent the spread of coronavirus and curb the outbreak.

“We are coordinating with the World Health Organization, because a lot of things are done under the auspices of the World Health Organization,” said Tiankai. “We certainly welcome American experts to join the actual group, the assembly.”

He also rejected criticism of alleged human rights abuses in the province of Xinjiang and reiterated Beijing’s claims of battling Islamic terror there.

Elderly men sit at a park wearing face masks in Hong Kong, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

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President Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping discuss coronavirus outbreak

President Donald Trump walks to speak to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:42 AM PT — Friday, February 7, 2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping assured President Trump that China will overcome the coronavirus outbreak. The two leaders discussed the growing epidemic during a recent phone, according to a White House spokesperson.

The president took to Twitter shortly after the discussion, where he stated his Chinese counterpart is “powerfully focused” on eradicating the virus.

President Trump also spoke about their conversation before heading to speak at an opportunity summit in North Carolina Friday.

“We’re working together, the World Health (Organization) is working with them, the CDC is working with them,” he explained. “I had great conversation last night (Thursday) with President Xi — it’s a tough situation, I think they are doing a very good job.”

President Xi said he appreciates America’s efforts and hopes both countries maintain communication to work together to contain the outbreak.

People wearing masks, walk in a subway station, in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. Hong Kong on Friday confirmed 25 cases of a new virus that originated in the Chinese province of Hubei. According to the latest figures, 233 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed globally, Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Admissions told a news conference. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Meanwhile, British scientists believe they may have developed a vaccine for the coronavirus. On Friday, scientists announced they will conduct human trials of the vaccine starting this summer. As of now, they are still in the early stages.

After China quickly released its genetic code, scientists were able to determine the origin of the virus, how it mutates and how to protect people against it.

“I think we’re at a fairly critical stage just at the moment in being able to know what’s going to happen. Are the number of cases being detected — we’ve heard that they’re dropping — is that because there are fewer infections, really or is it just difficulties in actually doing the tests and monitoring the patients? The next few weeks will be critical and we can’t at the moment say which way it’s going to go.”

— Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology

So far, the coronavirus has killed more than 100 people across China and has infected thousands more globally.

RELATED: Coronavirus Brings China’s Surveillance State Out Of The Shadows

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China criticizes U.S. for expelling Chinese diplomats

File – The U.S. and Chinese flags are pictured side by side. (Andy Wong/AP Photo)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:21 AM PT — Monday, December 16, 2019

China is urging the U.S. to reconsider the expulsion of two Chinese diplomats from the country. In a statement Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the U.S.’s accusation against the diplomats is “contrary to the facts” and has lodged complaints with U.S. officials.

According to reports, two diplomats drove up to an entry checkpoint at a “sensitive military installation” in Norfolk, Virginia. Instead of turning around, the diplomats drove further into the base before being stopped.

“We strongly urge the U.S. to correct its mistakes, reverse its decision and protect the legitimate rights and interests that relevant Chinese diplomats are entitled to under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” stated Geng Shunag spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

U.S. officials say they believe the incident was a test of the security at the installation, however, Chinese officials say the diplomats did not understand the guard’s instructions. This come as tensions over spying activity between the two countries is reportedly escalating.

RELATED: U.S. Expelled Chinese Officials After They Drove Onto Military Base: NYT

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