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Five-point guide to the politically poisoned "China lab leak" hypothesis
(By Counselor Li Jie from Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Arab Republic of Egypt)
2021-08-03 18:25

The pandemic has stroked upheaval. The appearance of new variants is causing problems and hindering countries to bring normality back to life. This global battle against COVID-19 is far from concluded.

If there is anything that the pandemic enlightens the world with clarity, it is, among others, that seemingly disparate issues in a world of increasing connectivity are intrinsically and intricatelly linked to each other.

That said, the "China lab leak" hypothesis is hyped up again, in disregard of scientific conclusion by WHO investigation in China that a "lab-leak" was extremely unlikely. This time "a report may be released to share in detail the findings of the US intelligence community on the origin of the novel coronavirus." as Biden put it. And then, Kurt Campbell, the White House top official for Asia, said the US is entering a period of intense competition with China. He said that "the period that was broadly described as engagement has come to an end ... the dominant paradigm is going to be competition."

Given that international issues are closely inter-linked, it is highly suggested to look through individual phenomenon and get essence of the real issue.

Here are five-point guide to understand the picture of the resurgence of "China lab leak" hypothesis.

First, the origin-tracing is a science-based study, to draw on intelligence apparatus instead of relying on scientific conclusion is simply not right.

Plus, the US intelligence service has discredited itself with notorious records in the world. This is the one that deceived the UN with the infamous test tube of laundry powder as fabricated "evidence" for Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction; This is the one that used the staged "White Helmets" video footage as "evidence" for the alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria to trigger and justify the subsequent U.S.-led military action against Syria; And this is the one that has been disclosed that "we lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." as boasted by the former CIA director, US secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

With all these cautionary tales of faked smoking guns, could the world trust the findings of US intelligence service which is best at choreography of propaganda wars?

Second, the "China lab-leak" hypothesis is poisoned by politics. Many international experts and scholars have questioned and criticized the US practice of politicizing the issue of origin-tracing.

Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO expert team and an American scholar, dismissed US "intelligence reports" as "political, not scientific", calling the lab leak hypothesis "pure baloney", saying he was confident his Chinese scientific partners were not hiding anything. He emphasized that he and other scholars who had been to Wuhan for origin-tracing studies had published a wealth of data supporting a "natural spillover", and pointed out there was a complete lack of data suggesting a lab accident.

Australian scientist Dominic Dwyer, also a member of the WHO expert team, affirmed that there was no evidence to back up the china lab escape theory. Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies program, said on 28 May, 2021 that "We would like for everyone out there to separate, if they can, the politics of this issue from the science. This whole process is being poisoned by politics".

Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, wrote that origin-tracing should not be used to blame China and exculpate the US. Armenian scholar Benyamin Poghosyan said that the US, driven by narrow-minded geopolitical purposes, has used origin-tracing to engage in anti-China propaganda, which undermines the international solidarity against the epidemic, and runs counter to the vision of justice and human rights that the US claims to champion. Ethan Siegel, an American science writer, uncovers US ill intention and ulterior motive bluntly, saying that conspiracy theories has gained a lot of traction, because "after all, how much more comforting would it be to know that just a handful of evil people - not the politicians who sacrificed their constituents- were ultimately responsible for the tragedies of the past months?" . "it's good conspiracy theory, Foreigners designing a virus in a mysterious lab, a nefarious activity, and then the cloak of secrecy around China" , Daszak pointed out again clearly.

Third, China has taken the lead in cooperating with the WHO on origin-tracing, in-depth studies have been carried out in China in the spirit of openness, transparency and cooperation.

China has always taken an open, transparent, scientific and cooperative attitude on the issue of origin-tracing. What China denies is the highly politicized origin-tracing that deviates from the requirements of the WHO resolution, and disregards the conclusions and recommendations of the first phase of the study.

China has twice invited WHO experts in China for joint study of COVID-19 origins, the latest one was from 14 January to 10 February, 2021. Under the strong support of China, 17 international experts, independently selected by WHO, have formed a joint mission with Chinese experts to conduct field research for a four-week trip in Wuhan. At the joint team's request, the Chinese side arranged the team for visits to the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is fair to say that they went to every place they asked to see.

The team visited bio-safety laboratories, held in-depth, candid and science-based discussions, and gained thorough knowledge of the lab management, standard operating procedures and latest progress on virology research. That's why international experts of this joint mission team spoke highly of China's openness and transparency on different occasions.

On the China lab leak hypothesis, the joint WHO-China study mission arrived at the conclusion through prudent science-based study that "a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely". This conclusion and the process of the study was recorded in the joint WHO-China study mission report. It is an authoritative conclusion based on science, as Dr. Peter Ben Embarek from the WHO further explained, that "the laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain introduction of the virus into the human population, and therefore is not a hypothesis that implies to suggest future studies into our work, to support our future work, into the understanding of the origin of the virus."

In contrast, the US uses the WHO and multilateralism when they suit its interests and abandons them otherwise. It withdrew from the WHO and threatened to stop paying its dues, engaged in politically-motivated origin-tracing in defiance of authoritative scientific research conclusions. It stigmatizes the epidemic, labels the virus, distorts the position of other countries, and interferes with WHO's global response. It is the US that is not taking part in the real science-based origin-tracing, and it is the US that is staying out of the international origin-tracing cooperation.

US politicians are obsessed with the "lab-leak theory" when there are no evidence to prove that the virus leaked from Chinese laboratories. With 33 million confirmed cases and 600,000 deaths from COVID-19, both the highest in the world, the US, instead of examining its own inaction, attempted to renew efforts to label the virus, stigmatize and shift the blame to China. It shows that facts and truth are the least the US cares about. Instead, the US is only seeking political manipulation for the purpose of scapegoating.

However, by politicizing origin tracing of the virus, it is not only shooting the scientists, but also people with the couduit to mitigate future spillovers, to prevent at the source of the next possible pandemic.

Forth, equal investigation shall be carried on in the US immediately.

What is worth recalling is that the US has the largest scale and the highest number of bio-labs in the world. Hundreds of millions of dollars go in to researching organizations around the world and there are risks of leaks, accidental or intentional, no matter how sophisticated the lab is.

Fort Detrick base is the headquarter of the US biological militarization activities, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is its principal entity. It is inextricably linked with Unit 731, a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Japanese aggression war against China. It is also worth recalling that the US bio-terror attack in the 21st century consisted of a US bioterrorism researcher mailing anthrax spores to politicians and journalists .

The international community and the American public have voiced concerns about the illegal, obscure and unsafe activities in Fort Detrick. The Research Institute, long engaged in coronavirus studies and modification, had serious safety accidents and was shut down in 2019. Soon afterwards, a disease with similar symptoms with COVID-19 broke out in the US. On these questions, the US side has never given any explanations to its own people and the international community.

In addition, some of the suspected positive samples were detected even earlier than the first case of COVID-19 reported. There are the unexplained pneumonia outbreaks in two retirement communities near the Fort Detrick base in July 2019, and on the subsequent large-scale EVALI outbreaks in Wisconsin. The US CDC Director openly acknowledged last year that some patients, who were thought to have died of flu, were tested positive for coronavirus in postmortem diagnosis. The US should conduct nucleic acid testing and antibody testing of the blood serum samples of these aforementioned patients. Explanations to the world are in need from the US.

The US Keeps saying that China shall participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation. Actually the world would prefer to testify that the US practice what it preaches, follow China's example, have the will and courage to invite WHO experts for investigation on study of origins, conduct a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation in the US, be open, transparent and disclose detailed data and information on relevant cases at an early date, and fully respond to international concerns to contribute to mankind's early victory over the pandemic.

Fifth, on the issue concerning humanity's health and safety, common and original aspiration shall be saving lives and getting better prepared to cope with similar public health crisis in the future, not instigating confrontation and division in the name of protecting humanity.

The problem of uneven vaccination has become more acute. Many rich powers hoarded Covid-19 vaccines. The promise of 1 billion doses of G7 for vaccine-hungry countries coming both directly and through the international COVAX program falls far short of the 11biillion doses WHO said is needed to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the world's population and truly end the pandemic.

China resolutely resists "vaccine nationalism", and "vaccine divide". It has announced support for waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, has been promoting its vaccine companies in transferring technologies to other developing countries and carrying out joint production, so as to expand vaccine accessibility and affordability. It endeavors to promote the equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide, especially in the developing countries. Egypt has started production of the first batch of China Sinovac vaccines, as announced by Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. And this project is the first of its kind to produce petrochemical products, allows the establishment of complementary industries on the level of the African continent and the Middle East.

Putting people and life front and center, China has actively carried out vaccine cooperation, fostering a new highlight in international relations and setting an example for developing countries.

The threat of public health security is a common challenge for all countries,major contagious diseases are the common enemy of humanity. We shall move beyond hatred and drive away the dark clouds of COVID-19 with the sunshine of cooperation.

Now the Biden Administration, at the very least, should show respect for the world people by stop cheapening the origin tracing of virus as geopolitical tools of conflict. Such irresponsible behavior may fashion a façade of unity based on portraying China as the new "evil empire", but it is a foreign policy ploy that should be rejected as it seems a recipe for global disaster, and will leave a stain in the history of the humanity's fight against diseases.

Competitive rivalry can raise the competence of those engaged. But antagonism, seeking to hamstring each other, is not beneficial. It entrenches hostility, justifies hatred, injures, and threatens to weaken both sides. China and the US are two major countries that share broad-based common interests in upholding world peace and stability, and promoting global economic recovery and development. The two sides stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation.

China will continue to work with all countries and peoples to combat the virus, strengthen international coordination and cooperation to strive towards building a community with a shared future for mankind.

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