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China calls on Rick Scott to provide evidence to back up coronavirus vaccine sabotage claim

China calls on Rick Scott to provide evidence to back up coronavirus vaccine sabotage claim
© Greg Nash

China is challenging Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) to provide evidence backing up his claim that China is trying to sabotage the development of a coronavirus vaccine. 

“Since this lawmaker said he has evidence that China is trying to sabotage western countries in their vaccine development, then please let him present the evidence. There’s no need to be shy,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday at a daily briefing, according to Reuters

Scott on Sunday accused China of trying to slow down the development of a coronavirus vaccine. 

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“We have got to get this vaccine done. Unfortunately we have evidence that communist China is trying to sabotage us or slow it down," Scott said Sunday on the BBC's "Andrew Marr Show."

Scott was pressed twice on what evidence he has to back up his claims. 

"It came to our intelligence community. ... I’m on Armed Services, so clearly there's things I can't discuss. ... I get provided information. But there's evidence that they've been trying to either sabotage or slow it down," Scott responded. 

Scott repeated his claims Monday in a tweet responding to an op-ed in the Global Times, China’s state-run newspaper. 

“Communist China & its propaganda outlets like the Global Times are working overtime to try to hide their #Coronavirus failures & their efforts to steal or sabotage vaccine research,” Scott tweeted. “The world is wising up to China’s role as an adversary to freedom-loving people around the world.”

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In response to calls for Scott to cite evidence to back up his accusations, a spokesperson for the senator pointed to a release regarding a bill he and his GOP colleagues introduced last month that aims to prevent China from “stealing or sabotaging American COVID-19 vaccine research.”

The press release cited a May announcement from the FBI to “raise awareness of the threat to COVID-19 related research” and the targeting of research by China. 

The release also cited a joint advisory from the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding activity by groups against organizations involved in COVID-19 responses. The advisory does not explicitly warn China is trying to sabotage vaccine development.