China denied on Monday "groundless accusations" by the United States that it may have deliberately caused the coronavirus pandemic while stressing it too is a victim.
"The virus is the common enemy of all mankind and may appear at any time in the world," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing in Beijing. "Like many other countries, China was attacked by this virus. We are the victim, not the perpetrator or accomplice."
"In the 1980s, AIDS was first found in the United States and spread all over the world. I don't know how many people in the world suffer from AIDS. Has anyone found the United States to blame?" Geng asked.
US President Donald Trump on Saturday raised the possibility that China may have deliberately caused the outbreak, adding that the United States has launched an investigation into whether the virus spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
If China was "knowingly responsible (for the virus), then there should be consequences," Trump said during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, without elaborating on what such consequences would entail.
"Was it a mistake that got out of control or was it done deliberately?" Trump asked, stressing that there's "a big difference between those two."
Trump suggested that China did not initially let U.S. experts into the country because "they knew it was something bad" and "they were embarrassed."
The virus, first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has spread globally, infecting more than 2.4 million people and causing over 165,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.