Chinese officials have continued to cast doubt on the widely held belief that COVID-19 originated in China’s Hubei province in late 2019. Last month a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry suggested, without providing proof, that the virus could have originated in a laboratory in Maryland, USA.
Chinese commentators have previously suggested the epidemic could have begun in Italy or been spread to Wuhan by visiting American troops.
In response the BBC commented: “We stand by our accurate and fair reporting of events in China and totally reject these unfounded accusations of fake news or ideological bias.
“The BBC is the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster, reporting to a global audience of more than 400 million people weekly without fear or favour and in accordance with our editorial standards.”
Separately China Global Television Network (CGTN) has lost its UK broadcast licence after regulator Ofcom concluded the network is “ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party”.
The network had broadcast Beijing sympathetic content on its English language channel though the viewership was tiny.
Ofcom added CGTN had “repeatedly failed to response to important questions”.
It claimed to have given the Chinese channel “significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules” but “those efforts have now been exhausted”.
In July Ofcom ruled against CGTN after it broadcast footage of the alleged forced concession from a British citizen.
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The project tracked coronavirus mutations back to their ‘progenitor’, or lowest common ancestor.
Sergei Pond, one of the team behind the report, said: “All the genetic evidence makes it clear this virus is from China.
Beijing only announced to the world it was fighting a new infectious disease on December 31, 2019.
Beijing also reacted angrily after the BBC published an article alleging mass rape in Chinese ‘re-education camps’.
Around a million Ughurs, and other Muslim minorities, are believed to be held in these camps from where there have been reports of forced labour, fortune and sterilisations.
Speaking to the BBC Tursunay Ziawudun, who now lives in the United States, said she was raped “every night” by masked Chinese men.
Another woman, a Kazakh, said she was forced to strip and handcuff women so they could be raped by guards.
She said: “They forced me to go into that room.
“They forced me to take off those women’s clothes and to restrain their hands and leave the room.”
The Chinese government has strongly denied the accusations.