Blinken vows to hold China accountable on COVID origin

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken told "Axios on HBO" the Biden administration is determined to "get to the bottom" of COVID-19's origins, and said the U.S. will hold China accountable.

Why it matters: "The most important reason we have to get to the bottom of this is that's the only way we're going to be able to prevent the next pandemic or at least do a better job in mitigating it," he said during a wide-ranging interview in the State Department's Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room.

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  • Blinken said China still hasn't "given us the transparency we need," access for international inspectors and experts, or real-time information sharing.

  • "That has to happen," he added. "(A)t the end of the day, it's profoundly in China's interest to do this, as well."

  • Blinken said that if China "purports to be a responsible international actor," it will have "to do everything it can to provide all the information it has to make sure we can hopefully prevent this from happening again."

On U.S. companies doing business with China, Blinken said it's "very important" they not "aid and abet ... China's ability to use surveillance technology to repress its own people, or to export that technology to allow other autocratic or authoritarian governments from doing the same thing."

  • In an executive order issued Friday, President Biden expanded the list of Chinese companies whose shares are off-limits to American investors because of connections to China's "military-industrial complex."

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