Pushing back criticism it received due to the coronavirus pandemic, China has said a pandemic can emerge anywhere and anytime in the world.

Like other countries, China was also a “victim” and “not a culprit”, China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said in its statement — COVID-19: 15 Truths You Need to Know.

It also termed COVID-19 as “common enemy of mankind”.

In a detailed response to a question on the origin of the deadly infection, which was first reported in China’s central Wuhan city last December, Beijing said: “Wuhan city in China first reported COVID-19 cases, but that doesn’t mean the virus originated in Wuhan. WHO [World Health Organization] has specific rules on how to name the virus.”

Since its outbreak, coronavirus pandemic has killed over 297,500 people, with total infections nearing 4.37 million, while more than 1.56 million people have recovered from the disease after spreading to 188 countries and territories, US-based Johns Hopkins University records show.

The US has emerged as the worst hit by the pandemic and President Donald Trump and his administration have sought probe into the origins of the virus, while Australia supported the call.

Six lawsuits have been filed against China in US courts prompting Beijing to mull sanctions against US entities and individuals as a response.

“There is zero legal basis for holding China accountable and making it pay for COVID-19… COVID-19 is a natural, not man-made, disaster,” the Chinese statement said.

The statement said: “China, like other countries, is a victim, not a culprit.”

International law and international health regulations “provide no basis for national responsibility for a pandemic”, it added.

“If the outbreak was first reported and started in China and China should apologize and compensate, a number of countries in the world should have apologized and compensated earlier. Who should be responsible and compensate for pandemic diseases such as H1N1 flu, AIDS, and mad cow disease?” Beijing questioned.

Beijing asserted it “did not fear” an independent international investigation team visiting China.

“China supports professional exchanges between scientists, but firmly opposes international investigation based on the presumption of guilt and politically-driven for the purpose of stigmatizing China,” it maintained.

About allegations of “using medical aid as trap”, Beijing said its assistance to other countries “is a return of their kindness in helping China with COVID-19 response”.

“It is also a concrete step to put into action the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind,” the statement noted.

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