Former Vice President Mike Pence called on the United States Wednesday to demand China “come clean” regarding the origins of COVID-19.
“The evidence strongly suggests the coronavirus leapt out of the Chinese lab,” Pence said during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, according to USA Today.
Pence slammed President Joe Biden’s administration for reentering the “Chinese-controlled World Health Organization without demanding a single concession” and for ending “our administration’s inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic before later reversing course.”
In addition to asking U.S. officials to pressure China on COVID-19, Pence attacked the communist country and American business leaders who he accused of profiting “from slavery abroad” while they lecture on social justice in the U.S.
“I hope Nike understands the American people are watching,” Pence said.
Pence also asked Biden and Congress to terminate any farm subsidies for land owned by foreign nationals in an effort to stop Chinese investment in critical infrastructure.
Pence also said funding from the United States to foreign labs like the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, makes the U.S. “complicit in every abuse committed.” The Wuhan lab had previously received funding from the National Institutes of Health via the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance.
“Under no circumstance,” he said, “should the United States allow public or private funding of scientific laboratories in communist China.”
Also on Wednesday, the first congressional hearing on the origins of the coronavirus was held by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), who led the hearing, asserted that the Chinese Communist Party’s lack of transparency does not amount to evidence of a lab leak.
“If epidemiology were easy, we’d have the answer by now,” he said in a prepared statement. “If the intelligence community were in possession of a smoking gun about COVID origins, I believe we’d know about it.”
In May, President Biden asked the intelligence community to double-down on efforts to determine the virus’ origin. Currently, the intelligence community is putting the most weight into two possibilities: COVID-19 emerged from human contact with an infected animal or it developed from a laboratory accident. Their preliminary evaulations were made “with low or moderate confidence” with the majority skeptical because there is not “sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” A report is due by the end of August.