Even as the U.S. and western countries demand full transparency from China regarding the origins of COVID-19, new information is surfacing highlighting direct military links between China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Despite numerous denials by Chinese officials, it has become increasingly clear that scientists studying bat diseases at China’s maximum-security laboratory in Wuhan were also working together with senior military officials in a massive project to investigate animal viruses.
According to the Daily Mail (DM), recently obtained documents have revealed that the nationwide bioresearch effort was “launched nine years ago to discover new viruses and detect the ‘dark matter’ of biology involved in spreading diseases.”
Launched in 2012, the massive effort was reportedly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and led by Xu Jianguo, who boasted at a conference in 2019 that ‘a giant network of infectious disease prevention and control is taking shape.’
The effort in Wuhan apparently was led by five team leaders, including Shi Zhengli, the WIV virologist nicknamed ‘Bat Woman’ for her trips to find bat samples in caves, and Cao Wuchun, a senior army officer and government adviser on bioterrorism.
Last month, notes DM, Profesor Shi denied the links, stating: ‘I don’t know of any military work at the WIV. That info is incorrect.’
However, the paper continues:
Colonel Cao is listed on project reports as a researcher from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army, works closely with other military scientists and is director of the Military Biosafety Expert Committee.
Cao, an epidemiologist who studied at Cambridge University, even sits on the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s advisory board. He was second-in-command of the military team sent into the city under Major General Chen Wei, the country’s top biodefence expert, to respond to the new virus and develop a vaccine.
The US State Department also raised concerns over risky ‘gain of function’ experiments to manipulate coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab and suggested researchers fell sick with Covid-like symptoms weeks before the outbreak emerged more widely in the Chinese city.
The military links to Wuhan’s biolab are fairly clear. The first question is – what is this bioresearch for? David Asher, an expert on biological, chemical and nuclear proliferation, who led the State Department inquiries into the origins of Covid-19, said: ‘The Chinese have made it clear they see biotechnology as a big part of the future of hybrid warfare. The big question is whether their work in these fields is offensive or defensive.’
The second question is, regardless of the intent of the research, did COVID-19 accidentally escape from the biolab at WIV?
Filippa Lentzos, a biosecurity expert at one of my alma maters, King’s College London, said the latest disclosures fitted ‘the pattern of inconsistencies’ coming from Beijing, reported DM.
‘They are still not being transparent with us,’ she said. ‘We have no hard data on the pandemic origins, whether it was a natural spill-over from animals or some kind of accidental research-related leak, yet we’re unable to get straight answers and that simply does not inspire confidence.’
After over 3.5 million COVID-19 pandemic deaths, the world still needs answers from China.