China has mastered the Art of Disinformation Warfare.
Nearly one and half years after the dreaded Covid19 emerged in Wuhan and while the COVID-19 virus is still raging all over the world, having infected some 153 million on the planet (20 million in India alone), Beijing has managed to fully cover the tracks leading to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) was supposed to shed some light on the origin of the virus; but at the end of their inspection tour in January 2021, the members slipped the vital issues under the carpet and conveniently stated that initial findings suggest the most likely pathway the virus followed was from a bat to another animal and then to humans. They dismissed outright the possibility of the virus originating from the lab.
But l’Affaire Wuhan is not closed.
On March 4, a “Call for a Full and Unrestricted International Forensic Investigation into the Origins of COVID-19”, was issued by some 28 senior world scientists; speaking of the WHO’s China tour, they asserted: “We have reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses – whether natural spillover or laboratory/research-related incident.”
The eminent scientists further observed: “With more than two million deaths, more than a hundred million infected by COVID-19 worldwide, and a massive global disruption impacting some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, we cannot afford an investigation into the origins of the pandemic that is anything less than absolutely thorough and credible. If we fail to fully and courageously examine the origins of this pandemic, we risk being unprepared for a potentially worse pandemic in the future.”
Whether China manages or not to change the narrative and blame it on ‘foreign’ hands, the tragedy is bound to have deeper implications for the future of the Middle Kingdom.
Beijing is slowly, but surely losing its credibility worldwide; further the role played by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is being speculated upon.
The Role of Gen Chen
Apart from the scientific recommendations of the Group of 30, an issue which needs to be immediately enquired is the role of an enigmatic personage; Chen Wei, a fifty-three-year-old PLA major general and a leading epidemiologist at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who was said to have developed the world’s first gene-based vaccine on Ebola in 2014; she was sent to take over the Wuhan Institute of Virology on January 26, 2020, immediately after Beijing admitted the existence of the virus.
The Chinese press reported: “After arriving in Wuhan, Chen’s team started building a portable testing lab, which was in operation on January 30.”
The State-run CCTV noted that Chen and her colleagues worked in shifts around the clock to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.
The Global Times wrote: “People familiar with Chen Wei, all know one thing very well – she is fast. Chen walks fast, speaks fast, and works at a fast pace. Chen is now working to speed up the development of the vaccine of COVID-19 in China.”
But there is more to Gen Chen; two months later, in March 2020, the Chinese media announced: “A Chinese doctor has stunned people around the world by injecting an untested vaccine for the coronavirus.” A commentator added: “Scientists in the country have been busily trying to find a way to beat Covid-19, however vaccines can usually take many months to go through testing and animal trials.
Speaking to China’s state-run TV network, Chen said: “We are doing all we can to put the recombinant vaccine that we are developing into clinical application. We must strive to bring the vaccine we are working on to clinical trial and application, providing strong technical support for winning this battle.”
This raises serious questions: why did the Chinese Army need to take over the P4 lab? How did Chen manage to produce a vaccine less than two months after the virus was officially found? Did she know beforehand about the virus?
One has to know that the P4 Institute of Virology in Wuhan is a high-tech facility partially funded and built by France; China had then a strong lobby in Paris led by former French Prime Ministers.
When he launched the research facilities in February 2017, Bernard Cazeneuve, the then French Prime Minister declared: “France is proud and happy to have contributed to the construction of the first P4 high bio-safety laboratory in China. …This cutting-edge tool constitutes a central element in the achievement of the 2004 intergovernmental agreement on Franco-Chinese cooperation in the prevention and fight against emerging infectious diseases.”
According to China.org.cn: “In January 2018, on the occasion of the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China, the heads of state of the two countries signed agreements on bilateral cooperation and issued a joint statement stating: ‘China and France will conduct joint cutting-edge research on infectious and emerging diseases, relying on the P4 laboratory in Wuhan’. The medical and health field constitutes a very important part of the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.”
France then trusted China.
But soon after, the French disappeared from the scene; the 50 researchers supposed to work on the project never reached Wuhan. Why was nothing made public? Was the PLA behind this? Could Gen Chen have used the P4 lab as a military facility in contradiction with the civilian agreement with France?
They are many questions that the unprofessional WHO team forgot to ask.
Xi Jinping had given the PLA’s medical teams the responsibility to win the ‘War’; when on March 10, 2020, Xi visited Wuhan to announce the ‘victory’, the Chinese president took the opportunity to reaffirm the PLA’s leading role in fighting the virus.
Many more questions need to be asked today, especially after the second deadly wave in India: Why was the P4 lab, a civilian collaboration between France and China, handed over to the PLA, with Paris remaining silent? Was Gen Chen sent to clean up all the compromising evidence in January 2020? Were the French asked to leave Wuhan or did they leave on their own?
Macron’s government recently generously donated to India, 28 tons of medical equipment, included 8 high capacity oxygen generators and 200 electric syringe pushers; this was very much appreciated. But he would now do a great service to humanity, if he would tell the world about the cause of the end of the Sino-French collaboration in Wuhan and what happened in the P4 Lab between the beginning of 2018 and the end of 2019.
L’Affaire Wuhan is certainly not over.