The U.S. State Department on Friday, March 13, summoned China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai to protest against Beijing’s recent comments that the U.S. Army may have brought the novel coronavirus to Wuhan.

The move came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian promoted the conspiracy theory about the origins of the coronavirus, also called COVID-19.

“When did patient zero begin in U.S.? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be the U.S. Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! The U.S. owe us an explanation!” Zhao tweeted in English on Thursday.

According to The Associated Press, the U.S. State Department called on the Chinese envoy to complain about Zhao’s comments, and noted that China’s storyline about the coronavirus “has been shifting away from the Wuhan Huanan market since mid-January indicating that China is trying avoid responsibility for the outbreak.”

“The U.S. is not interested in assigning blame, but asks the Chinese government to offset full access and transparency in order to prevent further loss of lives inside and outside the PRC,” the department said, referring to China.

Reuters citing a State Department official said that China was seeking to deflect criticism of its role in “starting a global pandemic and not telling the world.”

“Spreading conspiracy theories is dangerous and ridiculous. We wanted to put the government on notice we won’t tolerate it for the good of the Chinese people and the world,” the official said.

In a tweet late on Friday, U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said, “As a global crisis, COVID-19 shd be an area of cooperation between nations. Instead, the Communist Party of China has chosen to promulgate false & absurd conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19 blaming U.S. service members.”

U.S. National Security adviser Robert O’Brien earlier criticized China’s response to the coronavirus as a coverup.

“There’s lots of open source reporting from Chinese nationals that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation … so the word of this virus could not get out,” O’Brien said on Wednesday, March 11, adding that Beijing “probably cost the world community two months to respond.”

The coronavirus first broke out in China in December 2019, and has infected more than 145,000 people, including nearly 81,000 in mainland China, and killed more than 5,400 people worldwide. The World Health Organization this week labeled it a global pandemic.

After the virus outbreak appeared in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, it was hidden for a month and the Chinese communist regime started a broad international propaganda campaign to misrepresent the origin of the disease, according to La Croix International.

The regime sent instructions to the embassies, asking them not to mention the Chinese origins of the coronavirus suggesting that the virus originated outside of China.

According to sinologist Steve Tsang, the Chinese Communist Party has always had a monopoly on truth and history in China, and now is trying to deny that it originally hid the truth about the virus.

The impact of this phenomenon of repeating lies is such that cognitive psychology called it the “illusionary truth effect,” and it is used frequently in China.