From Project Syndicate, by Brahma Chellaney – Covid-19 has been with us for over a year and a half. It stopped businesses in their tracks, triggered a severe economic recession and killed more than 4.2 million people. But we still don’t know where the deadly virus came from, for one simple reason: China doesn’t want us to know.
China first reported a new coronavirus in Wuhan weeks after its initial discovery. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The ruling Chinese Communist Party prefers to suppress information it might cast in an indifferent light, and the emergence of Covid-19 within the country’s borders undoubtedly fits that description. In fact, the Chinese authorities have gone so far as to detain the whistleblower Spreading rumours.
By the time China told the world about Covid-19, it was too late to contain the virus. However, the Chinese Communist Party did not learn the lesson. Understanding whether the coronavirus emerged naturally in wildlife or if it was leaked from a lab is key to preventing another pandemic. But the CPC did everything in its power to prevent an independent forensic investigation into the case.
CCP authorized Investigation ” : a “ joint study With the World Health Organization led by China. But when WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently proposed a second phase of studies — focused on audits of Chinese markets and laboratories, notably the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — China hesitated.
And when US President Joe Biden announced a new US intelligence investigation into the origins of COVID-19, Chinese leaders condemned the “politicization of the US tracing.”
Without China’s cooperation, it would be nearly impossible to determine the origin of Covid-19. We know that the WIV had a published file of genetically modified coronaviruses, some of which were similar to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19), and that it has cooperated with the Chinese military on classified projects since then. At least 2017. This information was included in a US State Department report released in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
But proving that Covid-19 was detected by the WIV – or that it was not – will require US intelligence agencies to access more data from the early days of the Wuhan outbreak., and CCP does not give up on it. US intelligence does not currently have the kind of spy ring in China it would need to bypass the official embargo. (China dealt with it ten years ago by identifying and eliminating CIA informants.)
In any case, China now had plenty of time to get rid of any evidence of its own negligence or complicity. For that, they can thank the major US news outlets, social media giants, and influential scientists (some of whom have hidden conflicts of interest) who have spent most of the pandemic comparing the hypothesis of a lab leak with an unfounded conspiracy theory.
This position was often politically motivated. Donald Trump has focused his attention more on China than on designing an effective response to the pandemic in the United States. Therefore, when he promoted the theory of laboratory leaks, his opponents widely dismissed it as yet another Trumpian manipulation.
Even today, Joe Biden now considers the lab leak to be one of Two possible scenarios Many Democrats resist this idea. during this time, Republicans in Congress accuse Democrats of helping China cover up the origins of the virus. The Republican Party recently released its own report, which concluded that the WIV was working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans, and that Covid-19 had been accidentally leaked months before China sounded the alarm.
If the US intelligence report commissioned by Biden reaches a similar conclusion, it could push already strained Sino-US relations to a breaking point. This is not what the Biden administration wants, as evidenced by the efforts of Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, during her recent visit to China, to Determining the terms for responsible management of US-China relations.
With Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping also planning to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in October in Rome, it seems likely, at least, that the US intelligence investigation will be extended beyond the deadline. 90 days.
But reluctance to provoke China is not the only reason the Biden administration might be reluctant to pursue its demands for transparency. US government agencies, from the National Institutes of Health to the US Agency for International Development, funded coronavirus research at WIV from 2014 to 2020, through the US-based EcoHealth Alliance.
Details are still murky and US officials have not admitted any error. But accusations that the United States funded so-called “gain-of-function research” – or altering the genetic makeup of pathogens to improve their virulence or infection – have not been quelled.
exactly the contrary, According to a Vanity Fair investigation at the State Department meeting, colleagues seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government… will draw unwanted attention to US government funding.
Even if circumstances conspire to hide the truth, not a single question will go away: Could it be a coincidence that the devastating global pandemic originated in the same city where China is looking for ways to increase the transmissibility of the bald coronavirus. ?
As CIA Director William Burns admitted, We may never know for sure. But we should have no illusions about what this means. By not conducting a proper investigation at the start of the pandemic, we may have let CCP get away with millions of deaths.
Brahma Chellani, Professor of Strategic Studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, is the author of nine books, including The Asian Leviathan, Water: Asia’s New Battlefield, Water, Peace, and Others: Dealing with the Global Water Crisis.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2021.
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