President Joe Biden’s May 25 announcement, calling on U.S. intelligence agencies to launch an inquiry into the charge of a lab leak in Wuhan, China, is an aggressive act that disrupts cooperative work to contain the virus.
Once again, in confronting the greatest immediate challenge facing humanity, U.S. imperialism has played only a disruptive role. The drive to maximize profits and assert global dominance has pushed Washington to recklessly exacerbate the deadly COVID-19 health crisis.
What does U.S. imperialism hope to gain by blocking the World Health Organization’s inquiry into COVID with the demand that the WHO Inquiry focus on blaming China? This intentionally blocks an international initiative which needs full cooperation.
Regarding the 18 intelligence agencies, nine report directly to the U.S. military. The rest cooperate. They provide means to instigate and fight U.S. wars rather than neutral, unbiased scientific information.
Washington’s handling of the COVID-19 epidemic has obviously been a failure, with more than 629,000 deaths as of August 2, still the highest official death toll for any single country. China has stayed stable at 4,638 total deaths. U.S. civilians pay an immediate price in a system driven by profits. This failure begs the question:
Is the U.S. refusal to cooperate on a global strategy for COVID based only on the desire to create a diversion from their own failure? Or is the struggle at the World Health Organization part of the many-faceted U.S. strategy using military, economic, diplomatic and cultural weapons to isolate China? Or both?
Biden blocks global coordination
Whatever its pretext, Biden’s call for a report from U.S. military agencies focused only on China is comparable to throwing a grenade of anti-China hostility into the urgent effort to build future global cooperation — cooperation needed to control the pandemic and mitigate the climate crisis.
China is the one country that has cooperated and shared information with the World Health Organization from the first day.
It is the U.S. that has refused cooperation and determinedly ignored the advice, guidelines and WHO tests from the onset of the crisis.
Competition is in the DNA of capitalism. In a country built on serving capitalist profit, the U.S. ruling class and its government function based on ruthless competition. For them it’s the only way forward. Cooperation is life threatening.
Cooperation is a direct threat to the U.S. strategy of maintaining its global dominance. Dominance is only possible by stifling the development of underdeveloped countries. Economic sanctions, military escalation and political threats are all of use. Blocking trade, scientific exchanges, high-tech industries, cutting-edge technology confirm this direction.
While the U.S. government often makes arrogant threats and demands, it is infrequent that they arouse the kind of sharp blowback that they got from China.
Chinese officials and Chinese media are now publicly asking the following: If Biden is really for transparency, shouldn’t some examinations of U.S. labs be in order? For instance, shouldn’t an examination of the notorious biological lab at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md., be part of a global study?
Chinese media has linked to U.S. news articles on the July 2019 sudden shutdown of research at the Fort Detrick Army lab, where the most deadly and infectious viruses in the world are worked on, including Ebola, smallpox, SARS, MERS and the novel coronavirus.
The CDC ordered Fort Detrick closed for dangerous conditions. As the New York Times headlined Aug. 5, 2019, “Deadly Germ Research Is Shut Down at Army Lab Over Safety Concerns.” The Times explained, “Problems with disposal of dangerous materials led the government to suspend research at the military’s leading biodefense center.”
Opposition to Fort Detrick
For decades there has been opposition to the nefarious role of the biological weapons lab at Fort Detrick.
One of the early opponents, Dr. Gregory Dunkel, told Workers World: “I was a Ph.D. student in mathematics at the University of Maryland from 1962 to 1967 and a campus militant against the university’s complicity with the U.S. war effort in Southeast Asia. We researched, published material and held protests on the connection of University of Maryland — its computer facilities and biology department — and the biological weapons program at Fort Detrick. There were continuing campaigns on the dangers posed by Fort Detrick.”
Now China is asking several sharp questions that deserve attention. For example, rather than focus on only one lab in China, why not examine conditions at more than 200 labs the U.S. runs around the world engaged in virus research?
By the end of July 2019, two retirement communities near the Fort Detrick base witnessed outbreaks of pneumonia of unknown cause. In September 2019, vaping-related, lung-illness cases with symptoms highly similar to COVID-19 doubled in Maryland where Fort Detrick is located.
Pre-December 2019 results
Why not announce DNA results of samples gathered due to the sharp rise in pneumonia in the U.S. many months before the COVID virus was identified in China?
To date the U.S. has refused to check or announce any domestic results of blood samples before the December 2019 announcement of the virus in Wuhan. In contrast, scientists in Italy, Spain and France have announced that by retesting old blood samples and wastewater samples, they found that COVID was widely circulating as long as nine months before China announced they were suddenly dealing with an unknown virus. BBC reported on May 5, 2020, and again on June 19, 2020, on these early COVID findings in France and Italy. (tinyurl.com/b7zrhfny) (tinyurl.com/w9tup3ts)
Spanish virologists at the University of Barcelona in June 2020 announced they found traces of the novel coronavirus in a sample of Barcelona wastewater collected in March 2019, nine months before the COVID-19 disease was identified in China. (Reuters, June 26, 2020)
Considering all this evidence of the virus’ early spread before COVID was identified as a new virus and its DNA sequenced in China, why is the U.S. demanding a focus of a World Health Inquiry only on China?
The U.S. corporate media has tried to ignore the pointed and detailed questions raised by China. The Chinese people haven’t.
24 million in China demand investigation of U.S. lab
Millions of Chinese people have jumped into the discussion by initiating a global petition calling on the WHO to investigate Fort Detrick. By Aug. 2 more than 24 million people had signed the online petition. (tinyurl.com/xf9rrfpc)
More than 60 countries have sent letters to the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. These letters emphasize that the virus is the common enemy humanity currently faces, and its threat can only be overcome by the joint effort of the global community.
They urge the World Health Organization to act according to the resolution made by the World Health Assembly (WHA) and push forward the global probe to trace the virus. WHO must study the present pandemic, its early spread in several countries, its global impact and what future measures are needed.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter on July 26 that if the World Health Organization is investigating labs, its officials should go to Fort Detrick.
Zhao also urged the U.S. to publish data regarding sick soldiers who attended the 2019 Wuhan Military World Games and to disclose data on early cases, including the unexplained respiratory disease in Virginia, the vaping-related lung disease in Wisconsin in July 2019 and flu patients in the winter of 2019.
The U.S. government should also invite WHO experts to probe the University of North Carolina, Zhao said. The U.S. is the biggest funder and doer of coronavirus research, especially Ralph Baric’s team at UNC, Zhao said. Baric has studied coronaviruses for more than three decades.
China’s vice health minister Zeng Yixin said that he was “extremely surprised” by the U.S.-instigated plan, which he said showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science.”
Yang Zhanqiu, a virologist at Wuhan University, has repeatedly voiced his concern of the U.S. 2019 influenza epidemic and outbreak of vaping-related lung disease since 2020. Yang told the Global Times that he had visited the Fort Detrick laboratory years ago and learned that it stores samples for a long time for scientific research, so he believes that many samples during the influenza epidemic have been preserved by U.S. health departments.
“It’s not that the U.S. cannot run those tests due to technical issues, it’s just they prefer not to or not to tell the world for their selfish political interests,” Yang said. (Global Times, July 30)
There is increasing attention upon the United States, as it is the only country obstructing the establishment of a Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) verification mechanism for the past 20 years.
Dubious hacks launch anti-China campaign
Biden’s May 25 announcement was the opening shot to revive a discredited and thoroughly debunked charge the Trump Administration and far-right forces raised earlier. Steve Bannon, Mike Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton had made the same claim, also without any evidence, except the need to divert attention from the Trump administration’s failure to respond to the COVID pandemic.
Even the U.S. corporate media had exposed the charges then as a conspiracy theory. Now the same media, the military establishment and both political parties are in sync in focusing their attack entirely on China.
What is suspicious is that the media assault on China began with articles written by two different journalists, each with his own dubious background and neither with any credentials in viruses or public health. Yet these articles were praised in the corporate media and used to build pressure for the anti-China campaign.
One was former New York Times science writer Alexander Wade, author of a book on genetic theory that hundreds of geneticists denounced as a misuse of their work and some consider barely disguised racism. Pro-Nazi organizations have used this book to support racist and anti-Semitic arguments. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published his completely speculative article May 5 as an opinion piece, not a vetted scientific article. Despite his background, Wade’s opinion was immediately picked up and discussed as “a highly plausible theory,” “an incredible piece of journalism,” in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Current Affairs.
The other was Michael Gordon, who with Judith Miller had co-authored for the New York Times the totally unsubstantiated claims in 2002 that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq was secretly building weapons of mass destruction — WMD, the false argument used to justify the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Gordon’s article appeared in the May 23 Wall Street Journal, where he now writes, quoting an undisclosed intelligence organization report implicating China.
Gordon’s Wall Street Journal article went viral. It was immediately reprinted in Reuters, CNN, the New York Post, the Guardian, Forbes, NBC News, Business Insider, Yahoo News and The Hill. None of this media mentioned Gordon’s role in launching the war on Iraq or the opposition to Wade’s book.
Thus, the media manipulated highly suspicious articles to mobilize official action against China. False information repeated endlessly on news cycles becomes accepted as facts. Biden announced his attack on China May 25.
China’s government responded with three clear demands on the United States. At a July 29 news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the U.S., first, of distorting facts and spreading disinformation . . . aimed to deflect attention and cover up early cases in the U.S.; second, of violating science in clamoring for an investigation led by the intelligence community and to conclude within 90 days; and third, of forcing scientists to submit to supporting the “lab leak” theory.
This latest U.S. attack on China blocks cooperation in the face of a global pandemic that is mutating in far more dangerous directions. But it is only one part of the military encirclement of China. It is connected to the sanctions, trade cancellations, sabotage and economic war tactics. It uses the same loyal corporate media to manufacture facts whether on COVID or Hong Kong or Xinjiang.
China’s vaccine aid and exports have exceeded the total of all other countries combined, with more than 350 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccines already sent overseas. China is stepping up domestic production to further increase to more than 1 billion doses the foreign supply, especially to developing countries. In the U.S., despite lots of promises, 99% of its 330 million doses of vaccines produced were used domestically. (tinyurl.com/a6m39sk)
All those who oppose U.S. wars and militarism need to step forward and oppose this new U.S. demand on China. Everyone who fights for health care for all needs to speak out and oppose this sabotage of world health cooperation.