If the Biden administration was genuinely motivated to determine the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, it would not be blatantly smearing Beijing.
U.S. President Joe Biden is now channeling Trump’s conspiracy theory that the Covid-19 global pandemic came out of a Chinese bio lab. There’s no new evidence to back up the claim, but what is new is a cynical opportunity for Washington to ramp up its hostility towards Beijing.
The “lab-leak” theory was first floated in early 2020 by nutty right-wing Americans like Steve Bannon and other anti-China obsessives in the Republican party. It was then taken up by former President Donald Trump and his CIA-turned-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The idea was that the Wuhan Institute of Virology – a world-class infectious diseases research laboratory – released a deadly virus by accident or design to infect the rest of the world, and in particular to decimate the U.S. economy – the “greatest in history”, according to Trump.
Those claims were dismissed last year by the Democrats and their supportive news media as an unhinged conspiracy typical of Trump, who also believed that injecting household bleach into the human body could be a cure for Covid-19.
A more plausible scenario – one that China and many other international experts advanced – was that the SAR-CoV-2 virus evolved in nature and was transmitted from animals to humans. It’s still not clear if China was ground zero for the disease, or did it originate unbeknownst in another country prior to its detection in China?
An investigation by the World Health Organization concluded in March this year that a natural cause of origin and transmission was the most likely explanation. It ruled out the claim that the virus escaped from the laboratory in Wuhan. Although the WHO advised further studies should be carried out to locate the global origin of the disease. That did not mean to imply that China was hiding anything, only a routine call for more research on a scientifically complex subject.
The city in China is where the Covid-19 disease was first detected by Chinese authorities at the end of 2019. It then spread internationally and by March 2020 was declared a pandemic by the WHO. The disease has so far resulted in 3.5 million deaths worldwide with the biggest toll – over 590,000 – in the United States.
Nobody can be sure at this stage of the precise origin of the Covid-19 virus. It may take years of scientific research to determine the answer. More than a century after the 1918-20 influenza pandemic that caused between 17-100 million deaths worldwide, it is still not clear from where that virus originated.
However, the WHO experts assess that the most likely explanation for the Covid-19 virus is a natural evolution and animal-to-human infection. It seems to have originated in China, or at least was detected there, but there are legitimate suspicions that the disease could have been present earlier in the United States or Europe only not diagnosed as Covid-19 but rather erroneously as a “new flu”. That is why an internationally cooperative scientific effort is required, not a politicized agenda of prejudice.
What has changed recently is the emergence of U.S. media claims that Chinese scientists at the Wuhan laboratory became sick with Covid-19 symptoms in November 2019 weeks before public cases were reported. China has rubbished the latest reports as false. The Wuhan laboratory has also stated that none of its scientists were ever infirm from the disease.
The source of the U.S. media claims is inevitably American intelligence agencies. This has, in turn, prompted the Biden administration to resurrect the lab-leak theory.
President Biden this week ordered his intelligence community to report back within 90 days on the speculation about the origin of the Covid-19 virus. Even though Biden admitted that there was only “low to moderate” confidence about whether the American intelligence services think the virus was natural in origin or released from a lab.
That hardly inspires trust in what the U.S. spooks will come up with. Remember that these are the shadowy people who came up with “Russiagate” and other notorious nonsense about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It sounds like another reprehensible recipe for cherrypicking “evidence” to produce an assessment that suits a political demand. And that demand is for Washington to find ways to further harass China and rally American allies around an anti-China policy.
Biden has shown himself to be every bit as belligerent towards Beijing as Trump was. That demonstrates that policy is fixed in Washington regardless of who actually sits in the Oval Office.
Trump’s conspiracy theory about the “China Virus” is being dusted off by Biden, perhaps with a better veneer of “intelligence assessment”.
Trump is crowing that he is now proven correct in his previous machinations about the Chinese lab-leak. No, he’s not. It’s only that the new Democrat president is cynically channeling Trump’s craziness for pushing more aggression towards China.
If the Biden administration was genuinely motivated to determine the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, it would not be politicizing the matter with the blatant objective of smearing Beijing. Biden would instead be working with the WHO and China to scientifically study the pandemic. That would include conducting investigations into “new flu” deaths in the U.S. during 2019 as well as allowing inspections of bio labs in the United States such as the Fort Detrick military site in Maryland, and hundreds of other bio lab sites that the Americans have established across Asia in recent years. As it is, Biden is fixating on China. That’s political, not scientific.