Sullivan: US will not be issuing 'threats or ultimatums' to China in COVID-19 origin investigation

Sullivan: US will not be issuing 'threats or ultimatums' to China in COVID-19 origin investigation
© Getty Images

National Security Advisor Jake SullivanJake SullivanHawley pledges to slow walk Biden's Pentagon, State picks over messy Afghanistan exit 20 years after 9/11, we've logged successes but the fight continues Biden's antitrust demagoguery will drive inflation, not cure it MORE said on Sunday that the U.S. would not be issuing "threats or ultimatums" to China as it seeks access for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," host Dana BashDana BashHouse is no easy road for Biden, Democrats on .5T package Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Manchin: key energy provision of spending package 'makes no sense' This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake MORE pressed Sullivan on what actions the U.S. would take to pressure China to help facilitate an investigation, noting that Sullivan had once said the U.S. wouldn't take China's inaction lying down.

Sullivan stated that the U.S.'s approach was on "two tracks."

"One track is an intelligence community assessment that President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE ordered," Sullivan said. "The second track is an international investigation led by the World Health Organization, for which President Biden has rallied democratic partners to say there must be access to China, to be able to get the data necessary to understand what happened here."

"We are not at this point going to issue threats or ultimatums. What we're going to do is continue to rally support in the international community. And if it turns out that China refuses to live up to its international obligations, we will have to consider our responses at that point," Sullivan added.

Bash noted that this approach appeared to give China a fair amount of leeway in terms of how it could respond to international calls.

"Well, this is not a question of time, Dana, first of all we are in the process of using our own capacities, our own capabilities to begin to develop a clearer picture," Sullivan said, saying that pressuring China took "diplomatic spadework," such as what Biden did during the recent Group of 7 summit in Europe.

The G7 leaders called for a "timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based" investigation led by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origins of COVID-19.

"I will repeat what I said before, we're not going to simply accept China saying no, but we will work between now and when this second phase of the WHO investigation is fully underway to have as strong a consensus in the international community as possible, because it is from that position of strength that we will best be able to deal with China," Sullivan said.