Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Chinese laboratories conducting virus research pose a threat to the world and China‘s government should be held to account for the global coronavirus pandemic.
“The evidence that the virus came from Wuhan is enormous, though largely circumstantial, and most signs point to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or WIV, as the source of COVID-19,” Mr. Pompeo stated in an op-ed with Miles Yu, former senior Asia policymaker at the State Department who worked with him.
“In America, concern about the site is now broad and bipartisan,” the two former officials said. “The Biden administration stated that it has ‘deep concerns’ about the World Health Organization’s investigation into the early days of the pandemic, particularly Beijing’s interference with the investigators’ work.”
China appears “obsessed” with viruses and has engaged in dangerous laboratory manipulation experiments, having discovered nearly 2,000 new viruses in over a decade, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Yu said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article, equal to the number of viruses were discovered by the rest of the world over the past 200 years.
“More troubling is the party’s negligence on biosafety,” the two authors wrote. “The costs and the risk to world health are enormous, as evidenced by a novel coronavirus that escaped Wuhan. This situation can’t continue. The world must hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable and punish Beijing if it fails to uphold global biosafety standards, including basic transparency requirements.”
The evidence linking the virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology is “enormous” although largely circumstantial, U.S. officials concluded in a survey released just before Mr. Pompeo stepped down last month. According to Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Yu, State Department cables from 2018 warned there were biosafety problems at the institute.
The cables predicted that the infection method for the current SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the pandemic, would involve human-to-human transmission. One cable noted that the director of the WIV high-security laboratory warned that the laboratory could benefit humanity but also “lead to a disaster.”
Critics say Chinese laboratories lack technical safety support and standards for safety requirements, while engaging in unsafe handling of lab animals and equipment.
Bloggers in China have reported that virus-carrying animals at the WIV were sold as pets and could be sold to wild animal markets. Wuhan’s Huanan Seaford Market is believed to be another possible source for the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, WIV virologist Shi Zengli has published a scientific report on bat coronaviruses, like the virus behind Covid, that involved laboratory engineering of bat viruses. Dr. Shi also warned in 2019 that a future outbreak of a SARS-like virus originating from bats would take place in China.
“At the time, WIV housed tens of thousands of bat virus samples and experiment animals,” Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Yu stated, noting that China’s government has resisted international monitoring at the WIV.
“The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, has admitted to developing bioweapons,” they said. “In 2011 China informed the International Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Review Conference that its military experts were working on the ‘creation of man-made pathogens,’ ‘genomics laying the foundation for pathogen transformation,’ ‘population-specific genetic markers,’ and ‘targeted drug-delivery technology making it easier to spread pathogens.’”
Additionally a study by the Chinese military in 2015 treated the 2003 outbreak of the SARS coronavirus outbreak as a “contemporary genetic weapon.”
“And in January 2021, the State Department confirmed that people had fallen mysteriously ill at WIV in fall 2019, and that the WIV conducts secret bioweapons research with the PLA,” Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Yu said. “The Chinese Communist Party’s recklessness has already cost the world too much, and its obfuscation guarantees this won’t be the last such tragedy.”
• Bill Gertz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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