The secrecy of the Chinese authorities to provide information on the origin of the pandemic, the concealment of valuable information to the WHO on the genetic picture of the virus, the refusal to carry out an independent investigation on the outbreak of the virus; all are questions that are made to the Chinese Communist regime. But, in addition to the above, another event was recently revealed that leaves China in additional bad light.
According to an excerpt from the e-book Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century, adapted for an article in Politico, in 2018 diplomats confirmed that China was experimenting with coronavirus in a laboratory located in Wuhan. The experiments, moreover, were conducted in a risky manner, as the lab did not meet all necessary safety standards.
The article explains that, in late 2017, “senior health officials and scientists from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing attended a conference in the Chinese capital.” On that occasion, they “saw the presentation of a new study produced by a group of Chinese scientists, including several from the Wuhan lab, in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health.”
The e-book’s author, Josh Rogin, a decorated columnist for The Washington Post, explained that, since the distant outbreak of the SARS virus in 2002, “scientists around the world have been looking for ways to predict and limit future outbreaks of similar diseases.” To achieve that goal, various institutions, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH), funded projects involving scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) “including much of the Wuhan lab’s work with bat coronaviruses.”
One of the new studies was entitled “Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of the SARS coronavirus.”
According to information provided by American officials, Chinese researchers found a population of bats lying in caves in Yunnan province. This discovery “allowed them to understand how SARS coronaviruses originated and spread.”
Rogin wrote that these researchers boasted of finding the cave where the SARS coronavirus originated. However, “all that mattered to American diplomats was that these scientists had discovered three new viruses that had a unique characteristic.”
These viruses, it is explained, contained a “spike protein,” whose particularity is to “latch on to a specific receptor on human lung cells known as the ACE2 receptor.” What does this mean? According to the text, “that the viruses were potentially very dangerous to humans and that these viruses were now in a laboratory with which they, the American diplomats, were not familiar.”
American diplomats to Wuhan
The reality is that American officials, beyond the characteristics found in the viruses, were concerned that the WIV’s top-level biosafety laboratory (BSL-4) “was relatively new.”
For this very reason health officials from the American Embassy in China undertook a trip to Wuhan with the goal of visiting the lab and checking if everything was “ok.”
“In total, the embassy sent three teams of experts in late 2017 and early 2018 to meet with WIV scientists, including Shi Zhengli, often referred to as “batwoman” for her extensive experience in studying coronaviruses found in bats,” the author explained.
The situation was far more alarming than American diplomats thought. The reactions were surprising: “The Chinese researchers told them that they did not have enough properly trained technicians to safely operate their BSL-4 laboratory. The Wuhan scientists were asking for more support to bring the lab up to the best standards.”
So it was that the country’s diplomats wrote and sent two cables to DC, explaining their visit to the Wuhan lab where China was experimenting with coronaviruses. The officials reported that the U.S. needed to do “more to help the lab meet higher safety standards.” In addition, they “warned that WIV researchers had found new bat coronaviruses that could easily infect human cells and that used the same cellular pathway that the original SARS coronavirus had used.”
Josh Rogin revealed that one of the cable’s writers commented to him that the explanation that China was experimenting with a dangerous virus in a lab with serious safety risks was “intended as a warning about a potential public health crisis.”
“The cables were kept unclassified because they wanted more people at home to be able to read and share them, according to the cable’s writer. But there was no response from State Department headquarters and they were never made public. And as tensions between the U.S. and China escalated throughout 2018, American diplomats lost access to labs like the WIV,” Rogin explained in his account.
Rogin’s investigation makes it abundantly clear that the U.S. government did not trust the narrative the Chinese regime imposed about the origin of COVID-19 in a Wuhan market. An initial theory that was ultimately disproved by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control in May 2020. On the other hand, a good number of American officials were convinced of the possibility that a laboratory error could have caused the pandemic. Something that cannot be ascertained or confirmed without an independent investigation, which China refuses to do.
More Chinese research with coronaviruses
Experiments and research related to SARS and its variants are nothing new. Or, at least so it is reviewed.
“In early July 2020, a group of Chinese researchers in Beijing, including several affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, published a little-known study,” Rogin wrote. “These scientists claimed to have created a new model for studying SARS-CoV-2 by creating mice with human-like lung characteristics by using CRISPR gene-editing technology to endow the mice with lung cells bearing the human ACE2 receptor, the cellular receptor that allowed coronaviruses to so easily infect human lungs.”
The author of the book, worried, decided to consult with experts. There he revealed that some American officials believed “that this Beijing laboratory was probably conducting coronavirus experiments on mice endowed with ACE2 receptors long before the coronavirus outbreak, in research that they had not disclosed and still do not admit to.”
While the Trump Administration failed to give due attention to the cables sent in 2018 by diplomats in Beijing -though no one imagined it could happen- it did make one important move: the State Department statement on January 15th. Days before the now former president left office.
That statement was blunt, with serious claims, as it not only said that “Beijing continues to withhold vital information today that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next,” but they put the ball in the Chinese Communist Party‘s court by claiming that American intelligence had evidence that some researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory became ill and had coronavirus-like symptoms in the fall of 2019.
They further added that the WIV, despite calling itself a “Civilian Institution”, carried out research projects for the Chinese Army.
And that was not all. The State Department itself claimed that while the Wuhan Institute of Virology disclosed some of its involvement in gain-of-function research, it said nothing about its work on RaTG13, noting that it “has been involved in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.”
“That, by itself, did not help explain how SARS-CoV-2 originated. But it was clear that officials believed there was a great deal of coronavirus risky research going on in Chinese labs that the rest of the world simply didn’t know about,” Rogin explains in his book.
A senior Trump Administration official told Rogin that this, simply put, “was just a peek under a curtain of a whole galaxy of activity, including civilian and military labs in Beijing and Wuhan playing with coronaviruses in ACE2 mice in unsafe labs.”
The Trump Administration, in short, with the information it had -which was not much, given the nature of Chinese secrecy- was convinced that the Xi Jinping regime manipulated information at will to suit its interests and that, moreover, a lab accident was possible. But it was impossible to prove it with hard evidence.
“If there was a smoking gun, the Chinese Communist Party buried it along with anyone who dared to talk about it,” an American official told Rogin. “We’ll probably never be able to prove it one way or the other, which was Beijing’s goal all along.”
Sadly, diplomats who, in late 2017 and early 2018, reported on the dangers of China experimenting with coronaviruses in laboratories without the necessary safety standards were not listened to.
Finally, Rogin wrote of one of the revelations one of the cablers told him:
“I have to admit I thought it would be maybe a SARS-like outbreak again. If I had known it would become the biggest pandemic in human history, I would have made more noise about it.”