Mon. Jan 17th, 2022
Cartoon courtesy of Liu Rui/GT

By Herman Tiu Laurel

This appeared in the Global Times last August 2, 2021 and I am sharing the space with another author in the same publication, Xu Liang, who came out with a related article.

That the first Coronavirus outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, does not necessarily mean that the virus originated there.

As of this writing some 300 have already signed our petition calling for the WHO and the international community to open an investigation into the Fort Detrick biological laboratory in Maryland.

This idea birthed way back to the second quarter of 2020. It came up along with my colleagues in our think tank group Philippine-BRICS Strategic Studies. We raised it at the time as we reviewed the myriad studies emanating from scientific communities. Back then, many questions had already emerged.

One of the studies is from Cambridge University, which reported in April 2020 on the different strains of the coronavirus. It already raised questions on the original source as the family tree of the various strains starts with Variant A found in patients in the US and Australia, and the dominant strain B found in Wuhan is only a derivative separated by two mutations of that A variant. And then a third variant C, which the study claims is the “daughter” of B, had been found across Europe. Now there are Delta and Lambda variants, so the origins of the COVID-19 virus are not at all that simple. 

Then the complicated question became convoluted when the US started facing the alarming rise of the coronavirus infections within its own boundaries. Then US President Donald Trump tweeted in March 2020 about the “Chinese virus,” starting a trend in American and Western media using that term.

It must be noted President Joe Biden has practically banned all official US communications calling it the “Chinese virus” on January 27, 2021 to avoid “Asian Hate.”

In the interest of global scientific inquiry and the world’s peace of mind, China fully cooperated with the WHO to open Wuhan, its environs, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), to a team of 15 expert virologists, epidemiologists and other scientists of international composition from the US, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.

The WHO mission spent up to four weeks in China. Dr Peter Ben Embarek, head of the WHO team, concluded that the “lab-leak” theory was “extremely unlikely.” 

Frank interviews of Dr. Anthoni Fauci, and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, are both convinced of Covid-19 origins is natural and not a lab leak. At some point, Fauci exclaimed: “The idea is quite farfetched that the Chinese deliberately engineered something so that they can kill themselves as well as other people? I think that’s a bit far out!”  

While the WHO mission to Wuhan helped answer many questions, later reports emerged from countries such as Italy, Spain, France as well as the US indicating the presence of COVID-19 virus even earlier than the first identification of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, located in Central China.

These demand inquiry and verification from WHO experts as soon as possible. It behooves the WHO to look into these revelations by scientists and officials of those respective countries immediately to answer the multitude of questions they pose for the world and the countries themselves.

One of the most intriguing reports concerns the early presence of a “strange flu” in other countries and the mysterious issues such as the “vaping deaths” emanating from the US around the middle of 2019. Those reports emerged from the US revolving around Fort Detrick, which had been ordered by the US CDC to shut down for “national security reasons” in August 2019.

More aggravating reports followed, such as the admission by Belleville Mayor Michael Melham that he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies months after a severe November 2019 flu-like illness. This was followed by former CDC chief Robert Redfield admitting in March 2020 to a US congressional hearing that some flu deaths were posthumously discovered to be COVID-19 deaths. 

Fort Detrick is at the center of many questions because of its history and the nature of its mission. It had been associated with the infamous World War II Japanese germ-warfare Unit 731, obtaining biological information in exchange for leniency to Japanese biowarfare war criminals. Fort Detrick went on to be linked with mind control drug experiments with LSD in the secret MK ULTRA program, anthrax virus leaks, Ebola and smallpox experiments, and then the 2019 shutdown. 

As I wrote in a recent article quoted by several international media, Fort Detrick is too dangerous a mystery to remain shrouded in secrecy.

This would open the door to hundreds of other US biolabs including 200 in other countries and regions. Efforts to interview civilians living around the military base have been met with sewn lips.

This includes an interview at the Greenspring Village five kilometers out of Fort Derick at a senior’s home where five seniors died following an outbreak of respiratory illness in the summer of 2019.

All these circumstances and questions arising from them make it imperative that the next focus of the virus origins-tracing investigation be done at Fort Detrick, Frederick, State of Maryland, the United States of America.

When we read that the international petitions for the opening-up of the Fort Detrick investigation starting with the Chinese netizens petition have so far passed 24.9 million signatures, I thought of the thousands of Filipinos who agree that Fort Detrick mysteries must be brought to the light of day.

They must have a chance to petition the WHO too. This is the only way for the global community to make progress and not go around in circles as some elements in the US insist on doing by pressuring the WHO to avoid scrutiny of their own possible accountabilities.

Mainstream US media makes a U-turn on virus ‘lab leak’ theory

By Xu Liang, Global Times

Tracing of Covid-19 origins is supposed to be a task for scientists.

Yet, Western media have never stopped hyping speculations and smear campaign against China. Granted, some of them, including mainstream US media outlets, remained cautious with a disapproving view on the “lab leak” theory in 2020.

Their stance, however, took a U-turn by clamoring how credible a “lab leak” from Wuhan could be.

In January 2020, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Experts debunk fringe theory linking China’s coronavirus to weapons research.” The next month, The New York Times called the hypothesis a “conspiracy theory,” which “lacks evidence and has been dismissed by scientists.” By the end of 2020, the Associated Press put it more bluntly, “Debunked Covid-19 myths survive online, despite facts.”

Their rhetoric, however, has taken a sudden turnabout since May.

The Washington Post claimed, “To some pundits, the early dismissals of the lab thesis now look like media malpractice.” And the New York Times wrote, “Scientists don’t want to ignore the ‘lab leak’ theory” and welcome the call for a more rigorous investigation of a virus lab in Wuhan.

The change coincides with the time when US President Joe Biden directed the US intelligence community to redouble their efforts in investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and report back to him in 90 days.

Or in other words, it coincides with Biden’s increasingly clear strategy against China.

The “lab leak” theory was once pushed hard by the Trump administration, yet due to his horrible relations with mainstream US media outlets, the latter often scoffed at his remarks, kept a distance from his stance, while showing a supportive attitude toward the Democratic Party.

Kalin Chan (left) , shown in Mayon “block watch” patrol in New York City’s Chinatown, said that even if anti-Asian rhetoric recedes under Biden, “it will be years before we overcome this xenophobia”. Photo by Reuters

Scientists under probe on Covid leak rumor – China

After Biden walked into the Oval Office, thanks to his good relationship with media outlets, the latter is willing to play the role as a horn and a tool of the current administration.

That being said, the “lab leak” theory is no longer a pure science affair, but the epitome of a major power game between China and the US.

In the early stage of the outbreak, the US failed in combating the virus, which humiliated the country’s image as a world leader. Yet by choreographing conspiracy theories, US politicians and media jointly shaped a worldview of the pandemic, in which China is portrayed as a demon, while the US is still the leading role.

Take Bloomberg, an “authoritative” media outlet. It put the US in the No.1 position in its Covid resilience ranking. Nothing can better illustrate its move than, “It tried so hard.”

If the US was simply scapegoating and was out of a defensive, realistic tactic to insist that the virus originated in China, the hype over the “lab leak” theory is a major step forward.

It has become a weapon for the US to secure its leadership, to make the US a “saint” and make China a “devil.”

The easily changed stance of the so-called liberal news sources in the US vividly proved that they are participating in and serving the Biden administration’s information war to demonize China.

Stop politicizing Covid, China tells US

The theory is nothing but a forged, fake “knowledge” about China, creating an image that China’s biosafety management is a disaster, which will later result in a global iron curtain to contain any progress in China’s biotechnology. This is a link in Biden’s comprehensive demonizing strategy, just like how the US put more effort in fabricating “China hacking” very recently.

So far, from the perspective of science, the “lab leak” theory is sheer nonsense.

But in terms of an information war, even if Washington won’t get the conclusion it wants in the end, it could still successfully divert the public’s attention and muddy the waters, pinning China on a position of being suspected.

For the US, that would be a victory.

When it comes to propaganda about China, US media outlets are trapped in a predicament – not daring to accept the truth, not daring to voice the truth and not daring to take defeat. US media outlets still have the ability to correct errors.

But the capability is becoming weaker in terms of China-related issues, as core mainstream media outlets are taking the side of the “lab leak” theory.

US media outlets had acted as a political tool during the US elections, this is already well-known. Now, people from across the world are also increasingly aware that these media are also tools to serve the US’ geopolitical interests.

US media outlets are even helping politicians lie, creating and spreading rumors worldwide. This has turned out to be one of the natures of mainstream US media.

US-China talks: Salvaging a relationship

Media outlets should shoulder the responsibility of covering the facts, yet when it comes to putting their political stance a priority, they are no less proactive than politicians. US media outlets have long seriously degenerated.

They do not care about science at all. All they want is that the World Health Organization declares Wuhan is where the Covid-19 first appeared in the world.

All the US will get from this information war is a temporary condescending position over the case. Yet China is no longer a lamb to be slaughtered.

When the US government kidnaps science with politics, some politicians may win, but the neutral and objective banner of US media outlets will lose.

Herman Tiu Laurel is the founding chairman of the Phil-BRICS Strategic Society and a columnist at Pwersa and and broadcasts through “Opinyon Ngayon” @GNN-TV and “Powerthinks” @GTNR Youtube channel.   

Xu Liang is an associate professor at the School of International Relations, Beijing International Studies University.

Leave a Reply