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FTR#1187 The Oswald Institute of Virology, Part 6: Context, Part 2

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FTR #1187 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: In this pro­gram, we present more dis­cus­sion of the back­ground and con­text to Pen­ta­gon and USAID fund­ing for research into bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es through Eco­Health Alliance, in and around Chi­na.

Exem­pli­fy­ing the offen­sive mil­i­tary pos­ture in which the fund­ing of coro­n­avirus research has occurred is a quote from an oth­er­wise bel­li­cose Reuters sto­ry about U.S. with­draw­al from the inter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile treaty so that Amer­i­ca can build up forces to counter Chi­na. ” . . . . In a series last year, Reuters report­ed that while the U.S. was dis­tract­ed by almost two decades of war in the Mid­dle East and Afghanistan, the PLA had built a mis­sile force designed to attack the air­craft car­ri­ers, oth­er sur­face war­ships and net­work of bases that form the back­bone of Amer­i­can pow­er in Asia. Over that peri­od, Chi­nese ship­yards built the world’s biggest navy, which is now capa­ble of dom­i­nat­ing the country’s coastal waters and keep­ing U.S. forces at bay. . . .”

Imag­ine, for a moment Chi­na build­ing up its long-range mis­sile forces in the West­ern Pacif­ic to neu­tral­ize the U.S. Navy’s abil­i­ty to dom­i­nate Amer­i­ca’s coastal waters and keep an ene­my at bay.

This is a defen­sive gam­bit by China–America would respond with jus­ti­fi­able out­rage if Chi­na (or any oth­er nation) would chal­lenge Amer­i­ca’s abil­i­ty to dom­i­nate its coastal waters and keep an ene­my at bay.

The Pen­ta­gon fund­ing for these projects must be seen against the back­ground of three over­lap­ping areas of con­sid­er­a­tion:

  1. The fact that any virus can be syn­the­sized or mod­i­fied from scratch. As detailed in a very impor­tant arti­cle from The Guardian: “ . . . Advances in the area mean that sci­en­tists now have the capa­bil­i­ty to recre­ate dan­ger­ous virus­es from scratch; make harm­ful bac­te­ria more dead­ly; and mod­i­fy com­mon microbes so that they churn out lethal tox­ins once they enter the body. . . In the report, the sci­en­tists describe how syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy, which gives researchers pre­ci­sion tools to manip­u­late liv­ing organ­isms, ‘enhances and expands’ oppor­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate bioweapons. . . . Today, the genet­ic code of almost any mam­malian virus can be found online and syn­the­sised. ‘The tech­nol­o­gy to do this is avail­able now,’ said [Michael] “It requires some exper­tise, but it’s some­thing that’s rel­a­tive­ly easy to do, and that is why it tops the list. . . .”
  2. Also fun­da­men­tal to an under­stand­ing of the Covid “op” is the dev­as­tat­ing nature of bat-borne virus­es when intro­duced into the human body. “ . . . . As Boston Uni­ver­si­ty micro­bi­ol­o­gist Thomas Kepler explained to the Wash­ing­ton Post in 2018, the bat’s unique approach to viral infec­tion explains why virus­es that trans­fer from bats to humans are so severe. . . . ‘A virus that has co-evolved with the bat’s antivi­ral sys­tem is com­plete­ly out of its ele­ment in the human,’ Kepler said. ‘That’s why it is so dead­ly — the human immune sys­tem is over­whelmed by the inflam­ma­to­ry response.’ The bat immune sys­tem responds very dif­fer­ent­ly from ours to viral infec­tion. Instead of attack­ing and killing an infect­ed cell, which leads to a cas­cade of inflam­ma­to­ry respons­es, the bat immune sys­tem can starve the virus by turn­ing down cel­lu­lar metab­o­lism. The bat ori­gin of SARS-CoV­‑2 may explain the cytokine storms that are has­ten­ing some COVID-19 deaths. . . .”
  3. Analy­sis pre­sent­ed in the lib­er­al New York Mag­a­zine by Nichol­son Bak­er takes stock of the impli­ca­tions of con­tem­po­rary biotech­nol­o­gy and what we have termed (in past broad­casts) “The Mag­ic Virus The­o­ry.” “. . . . SARS‑2 seems almost per­fect­ly cal­i­brat­ed to grab and ran­sack our breath­ing cells and choke the life out of them. . . . Per­haps viral nature hit a bull’s‑eye of air­borne infec­tiv­i­ty, with almost no muta­tion­al drift, no peri­od of accom­mo­da­tion and adjust­ment, or per­haps some lab work­er some­where, inspired by Baric’s work with human air­way tis­sue, took a spike pro­tein that was spe­cial­ly groomed to col­o­nize and thrive deep in the cil­i­at­ed, mucos­al tun­nels of our inner core and cloned it onto some exist­ing viral bat back­bone. It could have hap­pened in Wuhan, but — because any­one can now ‘print out’ a ful­ly infec­tious clone of any sequenced dis­ease — it could also have hap­pened at Fort Det­rick, or in Texas, or in Italy, or in Rot­ter­dam, or in Wis­con­sin, or in some oth­er citadel of coro­n­avi­ral inquiry.. . .”

The ven­er­a­ble, bril­liant polit­i­cal researcher Peter Dale Scott has not­ed that “The cov­er-up obvi­ates the con­spir­a­cy.” Of great sig­nif­i­cance in this con­text is the appar­ent “scrub­bing” of infor­ma­tion on USAID’s fund­ing of key research in the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy: “ . . . . Shi’s most infa­mous Eco­Health Alliance-fund­ed paper is, ‘A SARS-Like Clus­ter of Cir­cu­lat­ing Bat Coro­n­avirus­es Shows Poten­tial for Human Emer­gence.’ In this con­tro­ver­sial gain-of-func­tion research col­lab­o­ra­tion with U.S. sci­en­tist Ralph Bar­ic of the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na at Chapel Hill, Shi and Bar­ic used genet­ic engi­neer­ing and syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy to weaponize a bat coro­n­avirus, max­i­miz­ing its poten­tial human infec­tiv­i­ty.

Shi’s fund­ing for this study came through a USAID Emerg­ing Pan­dem­ic Threats-PRE­DICT grant to Eco­Health Alliance—but the record for this grant appears to have been scrubbed from the U.S. government’s data­base.

Eco­Health Alliance was a PREDICT part­ner dur­ing the 2009–2014 fund­ing cycle, but there is no record of a USAID grant to Eco­Health Alliance for this time peri­od among the $100.9 mil­lion in grants it has received from the U.S. gov­ern­ment since 2003.

Shi’s con­tri­bu­tion to the work she did with Bar­ic was the ‘RsSHC014-CoV Sequence That Was Iso­lat­ed from Chi­nese Horse­shoe Bats.’ . . . .”

Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance in this con­text is the series of pro­grams record­ed in the fall of 2019, notably FTR#’s 1089, 1090, 1091, 1092, 1093, 1094, 1095.

Oth­er shows record­ed short­ly before, or in the after­math of, the begin­ning of the pan­dem­ic flesh out the panoply of oper­a­tions against Chi­na, includ­ing 1103, 1143, 1144, 1145, 1178, 1179, 1180.  1103, 1143, 1144, 1145, 1178, 1179, 1180.

Tak­en togeth­er and in the con­text of the full-court press against Chi­na dis­cussed in the above-enu­mer­at­ed pro­grams, the Pentagon/USAID fund­ing of Eco­Health Alliance, the impor­tant advi­so­ry role of for­mer Fort Det­rick com­man­der David Franz in Eco­Health Alliance and the research into bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es being con­duct­ed at the WIV and else­where in and around Chi­na, the four con­sid­er­a­tions just enu­mer­at­ed point omi­nous­ly to the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic as an “op.”

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: Joe Biden’s charge to intel­li­gence ser­vices to deter­mine the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus; Biden’s deci­sion to autho­rize the intel­li­gence ser­vices to deter­mine the ori­gin of the virus derived momen­tum from Antho­ny Fau­ci’s expres­sion of doubts about the ori­gin of the vbirus; Fau­ci’s NIH was involved with the Eco­Health Alliance’s fund­ing of the WIV research; The sick­ness of sev­er­al WIV employ­ees in the fall of 2019; Attri­bu­tion by a Dutch researcher of that ill­ness to sea­son­al flu; Review of Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines’ key role in Event 201 (Octo­ber of 2019) that fore­shad­owed the event; Haines’ vir­u­lent anti-Chi­na pro­cliv­i­ties; Overview of the mil­i­tary build-up and war-mon­ger­ing in which the Pen­ta­gon is involved; Review and fur­ther devel­op­ment of the weaponized media cov­er­age of Chi­na; Review of the fact that many per­son­nel at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy were trained by the U.S.; the fact that it was well known that gain-of-func­tion research was being done at WIV; 

1a. We begin by dis­cussing Joe Biden’s charge to intel­li­gence ser­vices to deter­mine the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus.

“Biden Asks Intel­li­gence Agen­cies to ‘Redou­ble’ Efforts to Deter­mine Coro­n­avirus Ori­gins” by Shan­non Pet­ti­p­iece; NBC News; 5/26/2021.

. . . .The intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has been unable to reach a “defin­i­tive con­clu­sion” on the ori­gins of the virus and is con­flict­ed on whether it came from human con­tact with an infect­ed ani­mal or from a lab­o­ra­to­ry acci­dent, Biden said in a state­ment . . .

 

. . . . He said he asked nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Jake Sul­li­van in March to pre­pare a report for him on what was known about the ori­gins of the virus. Biden said the find­ings, which he received ear­li­er this month, con­clud­ed that while two ele­ments of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty “lean” toward the expla­na­tion that the virus came from ani­mal con­tact, anoth­er leans toward the lab­o­ra­to­ry expla­na­tion.

 

Biden said each assess­ment has “low or mod­er­ate con­fi­dence” and that “the major­i­ty of ele­ments do not believe there is suf­fi­cient infor­ma­tion to assess one to be more like­ly than the oth­er.” He said he has asked for fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion.

 

Andy Slavitt, a senior White House advis­er for Covid-19 response, said Tues­day that it is a “crit­i­cal pri­or­i­ty” for the U.S. to uncov­er the truth.

 

“It is our posi­tion that we need to get to the bot­tom of this, and we need a com­plete­ly trans­par­ent process from Chi­na; we need the WHO to assist in that mat­ter,” he said. “We don’t feel like we have that now.” . . .

1b. Avril Haines has a strong, anti-Chi­na bias.

“Biden Intel­li­gence Pick Favors ‘Aggres­sive’ Stance on Chi­na” by Mark Hosen­ball and Arshad Moham­mad; Reuters.com; 1/19/2021.

The Unit­ed States should take an “aggres­sive stance” toward the threat posed by the aggres­sive and assertive Chi­na that it faces today, Avril Haines, Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s choice for the top U.S. intel­li­gence job, said on Tues­day. . . .

1c. More about Haines’ anti-Chi­na ori­en­ta­tion. In FTR#‘s 1185 and 1186.

“U.S. Spy Chiefs Warn of ‘Unpar­al­lelled’ Chi­na Threat in Return to Con­gress” by Mark Hosen­ball, Daphne Psaledakis and Patri­cia Zenger­le; Reuters.com; 4/14/2021.

U.S. spy agency lead­ers said on Wednes­day that Chi­na is an “unpar­al­leled” pri­or­i­ty, cit­ing Bei­jing’s region­al aggres­sion and cyber capa­bil­i­ties as they tes­ti­fied at a pub­lic con­gres­sion­al “World­wide Threats” hear­ing for the first time in more than two years.

“Giv­en that Chi­na is an unpar­al­leled pri­or­i­ty for the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, I will start with high­light­ing cer­tain aspects of the threat from Bei­jing,” Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

She described Chi­na as increas­ing­ly “a near-peer com­peti­tor chal­leng­ing the Unit­ed States in mul­ti­ple are­nas.”

Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion Direc­tor Christo­pher Wray said his agency opens a new inves­ti­ga­tion linked to Chi­na every 10 hours. . . .

1d. Biden’s deci­sion to autho­rize the intel­li­gence ser­vices to deter­mine the ori­gin of the virus derived momen­tum from Antho­ny Fau­ci’s expres­sion of doubts about the ori­gin of the vbirus.

Fau­ci’s NIH was involved with the Eco­Health Alliance’s fund­ing of the WIV research.

“REVEALED: Three Wuhan lab researchers were hos­pi­tal­ized in Novem­ber 2019 and Dr Fau­ci now says he’s ‘not con­vinced’ COVID devel­oped nat­u­ral­ly and calls for a full inves­ti­ga­tion into ‘what went on in Chi­na’” by Megan Sheets and Geoff Ear­le [Deputy U.S. Polit­i­cal Edi­tor aboard Air Force One (!); Dai­ly Mail [UK]; 5/23/2021.

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV) sought hos­pi­tal care in Novem­ber 2019, months before Chi­na dis­closed the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the Wall Street Jour­nal report­ed on Sun­day, cit­ing a pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed U.S. intel­li­gence report.

The news­pa­per said the report – which pro­vides fresh details on the num­ber of researchers affect­ed, the tim­ing of their ill­ness­es, and their hos­pi­tal vis­its – may add weight to calls for a broad­er probe of whether the COVID-19 virus could have escaped from the lab­o­ra­to­ry.

The report came on the eve of a meet­ing of the World Health Organization’s deci­sion-mak­ing body, which is expect­ed to dis­cuss the next phase of an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of COVID-19.

A Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil spokes­woman had no com­ment on the Journal’s report but said the Biden admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ued to have ‘seri­ous ques­tions about the ear­li­est days of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, includ­ing its ori­gins with­in the Peo­ples Repub­lic of Chi­na.’

She said the U.S. gov­ern­ment was work­ing with the WHO and oth­er mem­ber states to sup­port an expert-dri­ven eval­u­a­tion of the pandemic’s ori­gins ‘that is free from inter­fer­ence or politi­ciza­tion.’

‘We’re not going to make pro­nounce­ments that pre­judge an ongo­ing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV­‑2, but we’ve been clear that sound and tech­ni­cal­ly cred­i­ble the­o­ries should be thor­ough­ly eval­u­at­ed by inter­na­tion­al experts,’ she said.

The Jour­nal said cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials famil­iar with the intel­li­gence about the lab researchers expressed a range of views about the strength of the report’s sup­port­ing evi­dence, with one unnamed per­son say­ing it need­ed ‘fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion and addi­tion­al cor­rob­o­ra­tion.’ 

Pho­to Cap­tion: China’s for­eign min­istry not­ed that a WHO-led team had con­clud­ed a lab leak was extreme­ly unlike­ly after a vis­it in Feb­ru­ary to the virol­o­gy insti­tute. Pic­tured, an aer­i­al view shows the P4 lab­o­ra­to­ry at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy in Wuhan in China’s cen­tral Hubei province

The Unit­ed States, Nor­way, Cana­da, Britain and oth­er coun­tries in March expressed con­cerns about the WHO-led COVID-19 ori­gins study, and called for fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion and full access to all per­ti­nent human, ani­mal and oth­er data about the ear­ly stages of the out­break.

Wash­ing­ton is keen to ensure greater coop­er­a­tion and trans­paren­cy by Chi­na, accord­ing to a source famil­iar with the effort.

The Chi­nese Embassy in Wash­ing­ton did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment on Sun­day.

On Sun­day, China’s for­eign min­istry not­ed that a WHO-led team had con­clud­ed a lab leak was extreme­ly unlike­ly after a vis­it in Feb­ru­ary to the virol­o­gy insti­tute. ‘The U.S. con­tin­ues to hype the lab leak the­o­ry,’ the min­istry said in response to a request for com­ment by the Jour­nal. ‘Is it actu­al­ly con­cerned about trac­ing the source or try­ing to divert atten­tion?’

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion had said it sus­pect­ed the virus may have escaped from a Chi­nese lab, which Bei­jing denies.

A State Depart­ment fact sheet released near the end of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion had said ‘the U.S. gov­ern­ment has rea­son to believe that sev­er­al researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first iden­ti­fied case of the out­break, with symp­toms con­sis­tent with both COVID-19 and com­mon sea­son­al ill­ness­es.’ It did not say how many researchers.

Chi­na refused to give raw data on ear­ly COVID-19 cas­es to the WHO-led team prob­ing the ori­gins of the pan­dem­ic, accord­ing to one of the team´s inves­ti­ga­tors, Reuters report­ed in Feb­ru­ary, poten­tial­ly com­pli­cat­ing efforts to under­stand how the out­break began.

Pho­to Cap­tion: The World Health Organization’s deci­sion-mak­ing body is expect­ed to dis­cuss the next phase of an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of COVID-19 at a meet­ing lat­er this week

Ear­li­er on Sun­day, Dr Antho­ny Fau­ci revealed he is ‘not con­vinced’ that COVID-19 devel­oped nat­u­ral­ly and called for an open inves­ti­ga­tion into its ori­gins as Chi­na faces mount­ing pres­sure to pro­vide trans­paren­cy on the issue. 

Fau­ci, the nation’s lead­ing expert in infec­tious dis­eases, explained his uncer­tain­ty dur­ing a Poli­ti­Fact event on May 11 enti­tled: Unit­ed Facts of Amer­i­ca: A Fes­ti­val of Fact-Check­ing. 

‘There’s a lot of cloudi­ness around the ori­gins of COVID-19 still, so I want­ed to ask, are you still con­fi­dent that it devel­oped nat­u­ral­ly?’ Poli­ti­Fact man­ag­ing edi­tor Katie Sanders asked Fau­ci.  

‘No actu­al­ly,’ he replied. ‘I am not con­vinced about that, I think we should con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate what went on in Chi­na until we con­tin­ue to find out to the best of our abil­i­ty what hap­pened.’

Fau­ci con­tin­ued: ‘Cer­tain­ly, the peo­ple who inves­ti­gat­ed it say it like­ly was the emer­gence from an ani­mal reser­voir that then infect­ed indi­vid­u­als, but it could have been some­thing else, and we need to find that out. 

‘So, you know, that’s the rea­son why I said I’m per­fect­ly in favor of any inves­ti­ga­tion that looks into the ori­gin of the virus.’ 

Fauci’s appear­ance at the event came hours after he was grilled on the same top­ic dur­ing a tense Sen­ate hear­ing.  

‘Will you in front of this group cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly say that the COVID-19 virus could not have occurred by ser­i­al pas­sage in a lab­o­ra­to­ry?’ Sen Rand Paul (R – Ken­tucky) had asked Fau­ci. 

The NIH direc­tor replied: ‘I do not have any account­ing of what the Chi­nese may have done, and I’m ful­ly in favor of any fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion of what went on in Chi­na.’ 

Fau­ci also unequiv­o­cal­ly refut­ed Paul’s sug­ges­tion that the NIH had fun­neled mon­ey to the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy – the Chi­nese lab accused of play­ing a role in the COVID-19 out­break.  

Dur­ing his seg­ment at the Poli­ti­Fact event Fau­ci slammed Paul for ‘con­flat­ing… in a way that’s almost irre­spon­si­ble’ Chi­nese sci­en­tists with col­lab­o­ra­tive research into Sars-Cov­‑1, which emerged in Chi­na in the ear­ly 2000s. 

Fauci’s appear­ance at the event received lit­tle media atten­tion at the time but was pulled back into the spot­light over the week­end after the White House renewed its call for an inde­pen­dent and ‘trans­par­ent’ inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the COVID. 

White House Press Sec­re­tary Jen Psa­ki on Thurs­day called for explor­ing the ‘root caus­es’ of the pan­dem­ic after Repub­li­cans issued an inter­im report say­ing there was ‘sig­nif­i­cant cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence’ that the virus emerged from the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy.

‘I would cau­tion you against dis­prov­ing a neg­a­tive there which is nev­er the respon­si­ble approach in our view when it comes to get­ting to the bot­tom of the root caus­es of a pan­dem­ic that has killed hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple in the Unit­ed States,’ she said in response to a ques­tion about the report.

Pho­to Cap­tion: White House Press Sec­re­tary Jen Psa­ki called for a trans­par­ent inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus

White House calls for trans­par­ent inves­ti­ga­tion into ori­gins of COVID

‘Our view con­tin­ues to be that there needs to be an inde­pen­dent, trans­par­ent inves­ti­ga­tion,’ she said.

She said the inves­ti­ga­tion required the ‘coop­er­a­tion and data pro­vid­ed from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’ – which has denied admin­is­tra­tion requests to ful­ly share it. 

‘We don’t have enough info at this point to make an assess­ment,’ she con­tin­ued.

In 2014, NIH approved a grant to Eco­Health Alliance des­ig­nat­ed for research into ‘Under­stand­ing the Risk of Bat Coro­n­avirus Emer­gence.’ The project involved col­lab­o­rat­ing with researchers at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy to study coro­n­avirus­es in bats and the risk of poten­tial trans­fer to humans. 

In total, $3,378,896 in NIH fund­ing was direct­ed from the gov­ern­ment to the project.
Over the course of the two grants approved by the NIH for Eco­Health Alliance, the Wuhan Insti­tute received about $600,000 from the NIH, accord­ing to Robert Kessler, a spokesper­son for Eco­Health Alliance. 

The fund­ing was a fee for the col­lec­tion and analy­sis of viral sam­ples, the group said. It was direct­ed toward SARS research.

In the grant approved in 2014, about $133,000 was sent to the insti­tute in the first four years and about $66,000 in the past year. In the sec­ond grant approved in 2019, about $76,000 was bud­get­ed for the Wuhan Insti­tute, though no mon­ey was sent before the grant’s ter­mi­na­tion.

The grant was ter­mi­nat­ed in April 2020. 

Asked when Biden would call Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, Psa­ki respond­ed that ‘We have made that call pub­licly many times’ and ‘con­veyed that pri­vate­ly. And we have cer­tain­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed that they were not trans­par­ent from the begin­ning.’

The Repub­li­cans on the pan­el made their claim after infec­tious Fau­ci clashed with Sen Paul over his claims about a Chi­nese lab leak – and state­ments about a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that US back­ing was involved. 

Many top sci­en­tists, while not rul­ing out the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a human-caused event, point to the like­li­hood of the virus mutat­ing and jump­ing form ani­mals to humans, as has hap­pened with numer­ous pre­vi­ous coro­n­avirus­es.

The report says U.S. agen­cies and aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions ‘may have fund­ed or col­lab­o­rat­ed in’ gain of func­tion research – after Fau­ci specif­i­cal­ly denied gov­ern­ment back­ing.

‘Based on pub­licly avail­able infor­ma­tion, the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the out­break orig­i­nat­ed from an acci­den­tal expo­sure at the WIV has not been dis­proven,’ it says. 

It cites com­pet­ing the­o­ries – includ­ing the virus orig­i­nat­ing from a Chi­nese wet mar­ket, jump­ing over from human con­tact with a bat or oth­er species, or even through han­dling of import­ed frozen food  – but then says it focus­es on just one.

‘While Com­mit­tee Repub­li­cans acknowl­edge there are dif­fer­ing the­o­ries on the ori­gins of COVID-19, this review focus­es on the WIV as a pos­si­ble ori­gin source,’ it says, ref­er­enc­ing the Wuhan lab.

The report was released pub­licly Wednes­day after first being obtained by Fox News. 

The report, though cites ‘sig­nif­i­cant cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence rais­es seri­ous con­cerns that the COVID-19 out­break may have been a leak from the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy,’ with­out pro­vid­ing any direct evi­dence that it did.

It says Chi­na has a ‘his­to­ry of research lab leaks result­ing in infec­tions’ and says the lab con­ducts ‘dan­ger­ous research,’ which risks the ‘acci­den­tal out­break of a pan­dem­ic.’

The report fol­lows repeat­ed attacks by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Chi­na after the virus out­break. He fre­quent­ly called covid-19 the ‘Chi­na virus’ in the run-up to the elec­tion and called it the ‘kung flu.’ 

It cites pub­lic report­ing that Chi­nese researchers were sick­ened in the fall of 2019 with ‘COVID-10-like symp­toms.’

 ‘By con­trast, lit­tle cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence has emerged to sup­port the PRC’s claim that COVID-19 was a nat­ur­al occur­rence, hav­ing jumped from some oth­er species to human’ accord­ing to the report, although it is not just the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty mak­ing the claim.  

Pho­to Cap­tion: Chi­nese virol­o­gist Shi Zhengli (L) is seen inside the P4 lab­o­ra­to­ry in Wuhan, cap­i­tal of China’s Hubei province on Feb­ru­ary 23, 2017. Two Chi­nese labs are locat­ed close by a wet mar­ket in Wuhan that sci­en­tists believe allowed covid-19 to pro­lif­er­ate

CDC Direc­tor says it is ‘pos­si­ble’ COVID escaped from Wuhan Lab

Ear­li­er this month, Paul and Fau­ci got in a tense exchange dur­ing a Sen­ate hear­ing, where Paul accused the US of poten­tial­ly fund­ing ‘gain-of-func­tion’ research bats that could have gone awry.

‘This gain-of-func­tion research has been fund­ed by the NIH. … Dr. Fau­ci, do you still sup­port fund­ing of the NIH fund­ing of the lab in Wuhan?’ 
‘Sen­a­tor Paul, with all due respect, you are entire­ly and com­plete­ly incor­rect that the NIH has not nev­er and does not now fund gain-of-func­tion research in the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy,’ shot back Fau­ci.

‘Could you rule out a lab­o­ra­to­ry escape? The answer in this case is prob­a­bly not. Will you in front of this group cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly say that the COVID-19 could not have occurred through ser­i­al pas­sage in a lab­o­ra­to­ry,’ Paul asked Fau­ci.

‘I do not have any account­ing of what the Chi­nese may have done and I’m ful­ly in favor of any fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion of what went on in Chi­na,’ Fau­ci, the head of the Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases, respond­ed.

‘How­ev­er I will repeat again, the NIH and NIAD cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly has not fund­ed gain of func­tion research to be con­duct­ed in the Wuhan Insti­tute.’ 

Fau­ci also told him: ‘I ful­ly agree that you should inves­ti­gate where the virus came from. But again, we have not fund­ed gain of func­tion research on this virus in the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy. No mat­ter how many times you say it, it didn’t hap­pen.’

A report by the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion with the col­lab­o­ra­tion from Chi­na called a ‘zoonot­ic trans­mis­sion’ from ani­mals to humans ‘like­ly to very like­ly’ as the cause, although the admin­is­tra­tion has fault­ed the report as incom­plete. 

CNN offers the expla­na­tion as to how Dr. Fauci’s posi­tion changed from May 2020 where he stat­ed to Nation­al Geo­graph­ic “If you look at the evo­lu­tion of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence] is very, very strong­ly lean­ing toward this could not have been arti­fi­cial­ly or delib­er­ate­ly manip­u­lat­ed … Every­thing about the step­wise evo­lu­tion over time strong­ly indi­cates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”

The CNN arti­cle con­cludes “The ori­gins of the virus remain not ful­ly known. Trac­ing that is, at root, a med­ical and pub­lic health ques­tion — not a polit­i­cal one.”

Here is the arti­cle:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/24/politics/fauci-donald-trump-coronavirus/index.html

Why is Antho­ny Fau­ci hedg­ing on the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus?
Analy­sis by Chris Cil­liz­za, CNN Edi­tor-at-large Updat­ed 12:29 PM ET, Mon May 24, 2021

(CNN) — Antho­ny Fau­ci, the direc­tor of the Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases, admit­ted ear­li­er this month that he is no longer con­vinced that the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic orig­i­nat­ed nat­u­ral­ly.

“I am not con­vinced about that, I think we should con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate what went on in Chi­na until we con­tin­ue to find out to the best of our abil­i­ty what hap­pened,” Fau­ci told PolitiFact’s man­ag­ing edi­tor Katie Sanders.

“Cer­tain­ly, the peo­ple who inves­ti­gat­ed it say it like­ly was the emer­gence from an ani­mal reser­voir that then infect­ed indi­vid­u­als, but it could have been some­thing else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the rea­son why I said I’m per­fect­ly in favor of any inves­ti­ga­tion that looks into the ori­gin of the virus,” he con­tin­ued.

Which is, quite clear­ly, a change from Fauci’s pre­vi­ous view that the dis­ease very like­ly came about after ani­mal to human trans­mis­sion. Here’s Fau­ci in an inter­view with Nation­al Geo­graph­ic last May:

“If you look at the evo­lu­tion of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence] is very, very strong­ly lean­ing toward this could not have been arti­fi­cial­ly or delib­er­ate­ly manip­u­lat­ed … Every­thing about the step­wise evo­lu­tion over time strong­ly indi­cates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”

Fauci’s dis­missal of the idea that the virus orig­i­nat­ed in a lab in China’s Wuhan province fol­lowed vague asser­tions by then-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump that he had a “high degree of con­fi­dence” that the virus had come from a lab. Pressed for details on that asser­tion, which ran counter to US intel­li­gence on the virus’ ori­gins, Trump offered only this: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

Giv­en that his­to­ry, con­ser­v­a­tives leaped on Fauci’s recent hedg­ing as proof pos­i­tive that Trump was, in fact, right all along. (Worth not­ing: Fau­ci made his com­ments at a fact-check­ing sym­po­sium on May 11, but they were large­ly ignored at the time. Con­ser­v­a­tive pub­li­ca­tions began writ­ing about the remarks over the week­end.)

“Fau­ci must answer for his role in Wuhan’s COVID lab,” tweet­ed for­mer New York Rep. Nan Hay­worth ®.

Fau­ci has become a light­ning rod for con­ser­v­a­tive crit­i­cism of how the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty has han­dled the ongo­ing pan­dem­ic. Trump sought to vil­lainize Fau­ci for his alleged­ly too-cau­tious approach to a return to nor­mal from the virus, and the likes of Geor­gia Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene have tak­en up the cause; last month she tweet­ed a video of her­self work­ing out that includ­ed this text: “This is my Covid pro­tec­tion #MakeAm­er­ic­a­HealthyA­gain It’s time to #Fire­Fau­ci”

So, how much “there” is actu­al­ly there? Well, on Sun­day, the Wall Street Jour­nal wrote this:

“Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy became sick enough in Novem­ber 2019 that they sought hos­pi­tal care, accord­ing to a pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed U.S. intel­li­gence report that could add weight to grow­ing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the lab­o­ra­to­ry…
“…The dis­clo­sure of the num­ber of researchers, the tim­ing of their ill­ness­es and their hos­pi­tal vis­its come on the eve of a meet­ing of the World Health Organization’s deci­sion-mak­ing body, which is expect­ed to dis­cuss the next phase of an inves­ti­ga­tion into Covid-19’s ori­gins.”

It’s worth not­ing here that, accord­ing to CNN report­ing, US intel­li­gence offi­cials are not cer­tain what the researchers were actu­al­ly sick with. And Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told Con­gress last month that “the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty does not know exact­ly where, when, or how Covid-19 virus was trans­mit­ted ini­tial­ly.”

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s For­eign Min­istry, denied the WSJ report and said that the US is “hyp­ing up the lab leak the­o­ry.”

What’s clear is that Fau­ci is sig­nif­i­cant­ly more open to the idea of the lab the­o­ry than he was a year ago. While he did leave him­self some wig­gle room in his state­ments about the ori­gins last year (he said he was “very, very strong­ly lean­ing toward this could not have been arti­fi­cial­ly or delib­er­ate­ly manip­u­lat­ed,”) there was no doubt about where Fau­ci stood on the ques­tion.

The issue, then, is not whether Fau­ci has moved his posi­tion on the pos­si­ble ori­gins of the virus but rather why he is doing so. Fau­ci defend­ers will insist that he is sim­ply evolv­ing his view based on infor­ma­tion that has come out over the last year. Fau­ci oppo­nents will insist he knew all along that the lab the­o­ry was a pos­si­bil­i­ty and down­played it sole­ly to make Trump look bad.

In the midst of that debate, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that Trump nev­er pro­vid­ed any evi­dence for his vague claims about the ori­gins of the virus. “Some­thing hap­pened,” was as far as he would go.

It’s also crit­i­cal to remem­ber that there would be a major dis­tinc­tion — even with­in the lab the­o­ry — between the virus acci­den­tal­ly get­ting out and it being pur­pose­ly released as a sort of weapon. Trump and his allies have long flicked at the lat­ter expla­na­tion but with­out any fur­ther expla­na­tion or proof.

As CNN wrote on Mon­day:
“The cur­rent intel­li­gence rein­forces the belief that the virus most like­ly orig­i­nat­ed nat­u­ral­ly, from ani­mal-human con­tact, the sources said. But that does not pre­clude the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the virus was the result of an acci­den­tal leak from the Wuhan Insti­tute, where coro­n­avirus research was being con­duct­ed on bats.”

Here’s the point: The ori­gins of the virus remain not ful­ly known. Trac­ing that is, at root, a med­ical and pub­lic health ques­tion — not a polit­i­cal one.

3. Spec­u­la­tion about the ori­gins of the virus also gained momen­tum from the infor­ma­tion that sev­er­al staff mem­bers of the WIV got sick in the fall of 2019.

As a Dutch researcher notes: ” . . . . Mar­i­on Koop­mans, a Dutch virol­o­gist on that team told NBC News in March that some WIV staff did fall sick in the autumn of 2019, but she attrib­uted that to reg­u­lar, sea­son­al sick­ness. There were occa­sion­al ill­ness­es because that’s nor­mal. There was noth­ing that stood out,” she said. “Maybe one or two. It’s cer­tain­ly not a big, big thing.’

It isn’t unusu­al for peo­ple in Chi­na to go straight to the hos­pi­tal when they fall sick, either because they get bet­ter care there or lack access to a gen­er­al prac­ti­tion­er. Covid-19 and the flu, while very dif­fer­ent ill­ness­es, share some of the same symp­toms, such as fever, aches and a cough. Still, it could be sig­nif­i­cant if mem­bers of the same team work­ing with coro­n­avirus­es went to hos­pi­tal with sim­i­lar symp­toms short­ly before the pan­dem­ic was first iden­ti­fied. . . .”

“Intel­li­gence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate On Covid-19 Ori­gin” by Michael R. Gor­don, War­ren P. Stro­bel and Drew Hin­shaw; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 05/23/2021

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy became sick enough in Novem­ber 2019 that they sought hos­pi­tal care, accord­ing to a pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed U.S. intel­li­gence report that could add weight to grow­ing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the lab­o­ra­to­ry.

The details of the report­ing go beyond a State Depart­ment fact sheet, issued dur­ing the final days of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, which said that sev­er­al researchers at the lab, a cen­ter for the study of coro­n­avirus­es and oth­er pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symp­toms con­sis­tent with both Covid-19 and com­mon sea­son­al ill­ness.”

The dis­clo­sure of the num­ber of researchers, the tim­ing of their ill­ness­es and their hos­pi­tal vis­its come on the eve of a meet­ing of the World Health Organization’s deci­sion-mak­ing body, which is expect­ed to dis­cuss the next phase of an inves­ti­ga­tion into Covid-19’s ori­gins.

Cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials famil­iar with the intel­li­gence about the lab researchers expressed dif­fer­ing views about the strength of the sup­port­ing evi­dence for the assess­ment. One per­son said that it was pro­vid­ed by an inter­na­tion­al part­ner and was poten­tial­ly sig­nif­i­cant but still in need of fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion and addi­tion­al cor­rob­o­ra­tion.

Anoth­er per­son described the intel­li­gence as stronger. “The infor­ma­tion that we had com­ing from the var­i­ous sources was of exquis­ite qual­i­ty. It was very pre­cise. What it didn’t tell you was exact­ly why they got sick,” he said, refer­ring to the researchers.

Novem­ber 2019 is rough­ly when many epi­demi­ol­o­gists and virol­o­gists believe SARS-CoV­‑2, the virus behind the pan­dem­ic, first began cir­cu­lat­ing around the cen­tral Chi­nese city of Wuhan, where Bei­jing says that the first con­firmed case was a man who fell ill on Dec. 8, 2019.

The Wuhan Insti­tute hasn’t shared raw data, safe­ty logs and lab records on its exten­sive work with coro­n­avirus­es in bats, which many con­sid­er the most like­ly source of the virus.

The Biden admin­is­tra­tion declined to com­ment on the intel­li­gence but said that all tech­ni­cal­ly cred­i­ble the­o­ries on the ori­gin of the pan­dem­ic should be inves­ti­gat­ed by the WHO and inter­na­tion­al experts.

“We con­tin­ue to have seri­ous ques­tions about the ear­li­est days of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, includ­ing its ori­gins with­in the People’s Repub­lic of Chi­na,” said a spokes­woman for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.

“We’re not going to make pro­nounce­ments that pre­judge an ongo­ing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV­‑2,” the spokes­woman said. “As a mat­ter of pol­i­cy we nev­er com­ment on intel­li­gence issues.”

Bei­jing has also assert­ed that the virus could have orig­i­nat­ed out­side Chi­nainclud­ing at a lab at the Fort Det­rick mil­i­tary base in Mary­land, and called for the WHO to inves­ti­gate ear­ly Covid out­breaks in oth­er coun­tries.

Most sci­en­tists say they have seen noth­ing to cor­rob­o­rate the idea that the virus came from a U.S. mil­i­tary lab, and the White House has said there are no cred­i­ble rea­sons to inves­ti­gate it.

China’s Nation­al Health Com­mis­sion and the WIV didn’t respond to requests for com­ment. Shi Zhengli, the top bat coro­n­avirus expert at WIV, has said the virus didn’t leak from her lab­o­ra­to­ries. She told the WHO-led team that trav­eled to Wuhan ear­li­er this year to inves­ti­gate the ori­gins of the virus that all staff had test­ed neg­a­tive for Covid-19 anti­bod­ies and there had been no turnover of staff on the coro­n­avirus team.

Mar­i­on Koop­mans, a Dutch virol­o­gist on that team told NBC News in March that some WIV staff did fall sick in the autumn of 2019, but she attrib­uted that to reg­u­lar, sea­son­al sick­ness.

“There were occa­sion­al ill­ness­es because that’s nor­mal. There was noth­ing that stood out,” she said. “Maybe one or two. It’s cer­tain­ly not a big, big thing.”

It isn’t unusu­al for peo­ple in Chi­na to go straight to the hos­pi­tal when they fall sick, either because they get bet­ter care there or lack access to a gen­er­al prac­ti­tion­er. Covid-19 and the flu, while very dif­fer­ent ill­ness­es, share some of the same symp­toms, such as fever, aches and a cough. Still, it could be sig­nif­i­cant if mem­bers of the same team work­ing with coro­n­avirus­es went to hos­pi­tal with sim­i­lar symp­toms short­ly before the pan­dem­ic was first iden­ti­fied.

David Ash­er, a for­mer U.S. offi­cial who led a State Depart­ment task force on the ori­gins of the virus for then-Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, told a Hud­son Insti­tute sem­i­nar in March that he doubt­ed that the lab researchers became sick because of the ordi­nary flu.

“I’m very doubt­ful that three peo­ple in high­ly pro­tect­ed cir­cum­stances in a lev­el three lab­o­ra­to­ry work­ing on coro­n­avirus­es would all get sick with influen­za that put them in the hos­pi­tal or in severe con­di­tions all in the same week, and it didn’t have any­thing to do with the coro­n­avirus,” he said, adding that the researchers’ ill­ness may rep­re­sent “the first known clus­ter” of Covid-19 cas­es.

Long char­ac­ter­ized by skep­tics as a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, the hypoth­e­sis that the pan­dem­ic could have begun with a lab acci­dent has attract­ed more inter­est from sci­en­tists who have com­plained about the lack of trans­paren­cy by Chi­nese author­i­ties or con­clu­sive proof for the alter­nate hypoth­e­sis: that the virus was con­tract­ed by humans from a bat or oth­er infect­ed ani­mal out­side a lab.

Many pro­po­nents of the lab hypoth­e­sis say that a virus that was car­ried by an infect­ed bat might have been brought to the lab so that researchers could work on poten­tial vaccines—only to escape.

While the lab hypoth­e­sis is being tak­en more seri­ous­ly, includ­ing by Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials, the debate is still col­ored by polit­i­cal ten­sions, includ­ing over how much evi­dence is need­ed to sus­tain the hypoth­e­sis.

The State Depart­ment fact sheet issued dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, which drew on clas­si­fied intel­li­gence, said that the “U.S. gov­ern­ment has rea­son to believe that sev­er­al researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first iden­ti­fied case of the out­break, with symp­toms con­sis­tent with both Covid-19 and sea­son­al ill­ness­es.”

The Jan. 15 fact sheet added that this fact “rais­es ques­tions about the cred­i­bil­i­ty” of Dr. Shi and crit­i­cized Bei­jing for its “deceit and dis­in­for­ma­tion” while acknowl­edg­ing that the U.S. gov­ern­ment hasn’t deter­mined exact­ly how the pan­dem­ic began.

The Biden admin­is­tra­tion hasn’t dis­put­ed any of the asser­tions in the fact sheet, which cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials say was vet­ted by U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies. The fact sheet also cov­ered research activ­i­ties at the WIV, its alleged coop­er­a­tion on some projects with the Chi­nese mil­i­tary and acci­dents at oth­er Chi­nese labs.

But one Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said that by high­light­ing data that point­ed to the lab leak hypoth­e­sis, Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials had sought “to put spin on the ball.” Sev­er­al U.S. offi­cials described the intel­li­gence as “cir­cum­stan­tial,” wor­thy of fur­ther explo­ration but not con­clu­sive on its own.

Asked about the Jan. 15 state­ment, State Depart­ment spokesman Ned Price said: “A fact sheet issued by the pre­vi­ous admin­is­tra­tion on Jan­u­ary 15 did not draw any con­clu­sions regard­ing the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus. Rather, it focused on the lack of trans­paren­cy sur­round­ing the ori­gins.”

Though the first known case was Dec. 8, sev­er­al analy­ses of the virus’s rate of muta­tion con­clud­ed that it like­ly began spread­ing sev­er­al weeks ear­li­er.

The WHO-led team that vis­it­ed Wuhan con­clud­ed in a joint report with Chi­nese experts in March that the virus most like­ly spread from bats to humans via anoth­er ani­mal, and that a lab­o­ra­to­ry leak was “extreme­ly unlike­ly.”

How­ev­er, team mem­bers said they didn’t view raw data or orig­i­nal lab, safe­ty and oth­er records. On the same day the report came out, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghe­breye­sus said the team hadn’t ade­quate­ly exam­ined the lab leak hypoth­e­sis, and called for a fuller probe of the idea.

The U.S., Euro­pean Union and sev­er­al oth­er gov­ern­ments have also called for a more trans­par­ent inves­ti­ga­tion of Covid-19’s ori­gins, with­out explic­it­ly demand­ing a lab probe. They have called in par­tic­u­lar for bet­ter access to data and sam­ples from poten­tial ear­ly Covid-19 cas­es.

Mem­bers of the WHO-led team said Chi­nese coun­ter­parts had iden­ti­fied 92 poten­tial Covid-19 cas­es among some 76,000 peo­ple who fell sick between Octo­ber and ear­ly Decem­ber 2019, but turned down requests to share raw data on the larg­er group. That data would help the WHO-led team under­stand why Chi­na sought to only test those 92 peo­ple for anti­bod­ies.

Team mem­bers also said they asked for access to a Wuhan blood bank to test sam­ples from before Decem­ber 2019 for anti­bod­ies. Chi­nese author­i­ties declined at first, cit­ing pri­va­cy con­cerns, then agreed, but have yet to pro­vide that access, team mem­bers say.

————

4. Note that many of the per­son­nel at the WIV were trained in the U.S. afford­ing a pos­si­ble vehi­cle for covert oper­a­tion at the Insti­tute.

“Trump admin pulls NIH grant for coro­n­avirus research over ties to Wuhan lab at heart of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries” by Conor Finnegan; ABC News; 05/01/2020

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has pulled fund­ing for a group of sci­en­tists study­ing coro­n­avirus­es in bats and the risk of their spillover into humans — the very kind of infec­tion that start­ed the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic — accord­ing to Eco­Health Alliance, the New York-based non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion con­duct­ing the research.

The can­cel­la­tion of the grant after more than a decade of work in this field seems to be tied to Eco­Health Alliance’s part­ner­ship with the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy, the bio­med­ical lab at the heart of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment cre­at­ed or unleashed the virus or the unproven the­sis that the out­break start­ed with an acci­dent because of faulty safe­ty stan­dards in the lab.

Either way, the group expressed regret at the deci­sion by the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health to ter­mi­nate fund­ing, say­ing its work has helped in “design­ing vac­cines and drugs to pro­tect us from COVID-19 and oth­er coro­n­avirus threats” and point­ing out the Wuhan Institute’s par­tic­i­pa­tion had been approved by the NIH for years, includ­ing just last year under Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. . . .

. . . . Eco­Health Alliance has worked with that lab for over a decade, accord­ing to a source famil­iar with the grant, as has the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Development’s PREDICT project, which for over 10 years has also stud­ied virus­es in ani­mals and pre­pared local part­ners around the world to detect that kind of “spillover.”

But in a let­ter last Fri­day, the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health informed the Eco­Health Alliance it was ter­mi­nat­ing the grant and deny­ing it access to the remain­ing $369,819 in its account for Fis­cal Year 2020. . . .

. . . . Eco­Health Alliance has received NIH fund­ing for this work since 2008, amount­ing to $5.96 mil­lion over 12 years, accord­ing to NIHdata. That work has helped “devel­op pre­dic­tive mod­els of glob­al ‘hot spots’ for the future emer­gence of bat virus­es” and used its “large repos­i­to­ry of bat bio­log­i­cal sam­ples to con­duct tar­get­ed sur­veil­lance in these ‘hot spots’ for known and undis­cov­ered bat pathogens,” accord­ing to the group. . . .

. . . . Since Fis­cal Year 2014, that work has been award­ed to Eco­Health Alliance’s “Under­stand­ing the Risk of Bat Coro­n­avirus Emer­gence” project in par­tic­u­lar, which is explic­it­ly focused on Chi­na and done in part­ner­ship with the Wuhan Insti­tute and oth­ers.

“This project aims to under­stand what fac­tors increase the risk of the next CoV [coro­n­avirus] emerg­ing in peo­ple by study­ing CoV diver­si­ty in a crit­i­cal zoonot­ic reser­voir (bats), at sites of high risk for emer­gence (wildlife mar­kets) in an emerg­ing dis­ease hotspot (Chi­na),” the group’s NIH-approved research abstract said. . . .

. . . . But while U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies look for clues of a poten­tial lab acci­dent, epi­demi­o­log­i­cal experts say it’s high­ly unlike­ly the first trans­mis­sion hap­pened that way. Virus sam­ples in labs are almost nev­er still infec­tious, after being frozen in nitro­gen dur­ing the col­lec­tion process and then inac­ti­vat­ed in the lab to pre­serve their genet­ic sequence.

“It’s an unlike­ly prob­a­bil­i­ty because the lab­o­ra­to­ry is a con­trolled set­ting and peo­ple wear per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment. I’ve seen hearsay that they maybe didn’t have enough or they weren’t skilled enough, but there are bar­ri­ers, huge bar­ri­ers between peo­ple and virus­es in the lab­o­ra­to­ry set­ting,” said Dr. Chris­tine John­son, prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tor with USAID’s PREDICT project, which will end this Sep­tem­ber after 10 years and two six-month exten­sions as USAID launch­es a new project that applies the data PREDICT col­lect­ed. . . . 

. . . . In the face of that, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo has now start­ed to call into the ques­tion of China’s bio­med­ical labs, demand­ing that they pro­vide inter­na­tion­al inspec­tors access to them, although it’s unclear if the admin­is­tra­tion has for­mal­ly request­ed that of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. Many of the sci­en­tists at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy have been trained by the U.S. government’s PREDICT project. . . .

. . . . A 2017 report by Eco­Health Alliance’s project, whose authors include Wuhan Insti­tute sci­en­tists, was pub­lished in the research jour­nal Viro­log­i­ca Sini­ca and warned that “some bat SARSr-CoVs [severe acute res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­drome-relat­ed coro­n­avirus­es] are able to direct­ly infect humans with­out inter­me­di­ate host.”

5. The infor­ma­tion about the mil­i­tary and USAID fund­ing of research into  bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es in Chi­na must be seen against the U.S. mil­i­tary build-up against Chi­na, with atten­dant war-mon­ger­ing.

Coun­ter­ing the spin in this arti­cle, we note what the Chi­nese mis­sile and naval build-up was designed to do: ” . . . . In a series last year, Reuters report­ed that while the U.S. was dis­tract­ed by almost two decades of war in the Mid­dle East and Afghanistan, the PLA had built a mis­sile force designed to attack the air­craft car­ri­ers, oth­er sur­face war­ships and net­work of bases that form the back­bone of Amer­i­can pow­er in Asia. Over that peri­od, Chi­nese ship­yards built the world’s biggest navy, which is now capa­ble of dom­i­nat­ing the country’s coastal waters and keep­ing U.S. forces at bay. . . .”

Imag­ine, for a moment Chi­na build­ing up its long-range mis­sile forces in the West­ern Pacif­ic to neu­tral­ize the U.S. Navy’s abil­i­ty to dom­i­nate Amer­i­ca’s coastal waters and keep an ene­my at bay.

This is a defen­sive gam­bit by China–America would respond with jus­ti­fi­able out­rage if Chi­na (or any oth­er nation) would chal­lenge Amer­i­ca’s abil­i­ty to dom­i­nate its coastal waters and keep an ene­my at bay.

“Spe­cial Report: U.S. rearms to nul­li­fy Chi­na’s mis­sile suprema­cy” By David Lague; reuters.com; 5/6/2020.

As Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing trade barbs over the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, a longer-term strug­gle between the two Pacif­ic pow­ers is at a turn­ing point, as the Unit­ed States rolls out new weapons and strat­e­gy in a bid to close a wide mis­sile gap with Chi­na.

The Unit­ed States has large­ly stood by in recent decades as Chi­na dra­mat­i­cal­ly expand­ed its mil­i­tary fire­pow­er. Now, hav­ing shed the con­straints of a Cold War-era arms con­trol treaty, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is plan­ning to deploy long-range, ground-launched cruise mis­siles in the Asia-Pacif­ic region.

The Pen­ta­gon intends to arm its Marines with ver­sions of the Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­sile now car­ried on U.S. war­ships, accord­ing to the White House bud­get requests for 2021 and Con­gres­sion­al tes­ti­mo­ny in March of senior U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­ders. It is also accel­er­at­ing deliv­er­ies of its first new long-range anti-ship mis­siles in decades.

In a state­ment to Reuters about the lat­est U.S. moves, Bei­jing urged Wash­ing­ton to “be cau­tious in word and deed,” to “stop mov­ing chess pieces around” the region, and to “stop flex­ing its mil­i­tary mus­cles around Chi­na.”

The U.S. moves are aimed at coun­ter­ing China’s over­whelm­ing advan­tage in land-based cruise and bal­lis­tic mis­siles. The Pen­ta­gon also intends to dial back China’s lead in what strate­gists refer to as the “range war.” The People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA), China’s mil­i­tary, has built up a huge force of mis­siles that most­ly out­range those of the U.S. and its region­al allies, accord­ing to senior U.S. com­man­ders and strate­gic advis­ers to the Pen­ta­gon, who have been warn­ing that Chi­na holds a clear advan­tage in these weapons.

And, in a rad­i­cal shift in tac­tics, the Marines will join forces with the U.S. Navy in attack­ing an enemy’s war­ships. Small and mobile units of U.S. Marines armed with anti-ship mis­siles will become ship killers.

In a con­flict, these units will be dis­persed at key points in the West­ern Pacif­ic and along the so-called first island chain, com­man­ders said. The first island chain is the string of islands that run from the Japan­ese arch­i­pel­ago, through Tai­wan, the Philip­pines and on to Bor­neo, enclos­ing China’s coastal seas.

Top U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­ders explained the new tac­tics to Con­gress in March in a series of bud­get hear­ings. The com­man­dant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Gen­er­al David Berg­er, told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on March 5 that small units of Marines armed with pre­ci­sion mis­siles could assist the U.S. Navy to gain con­trol of the seas, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the West­ern Pacif­ic. “The Tom­a­hawk mis­sile is one of the tools that is going to allow us to do that,” he said.

The Tom­a­hawk — which first gained fame when launched in massed strikes dur­ing the 1991 Gulf War — has been car­ried on U.S. war­ships and used to attack land tar­gets in recent decades. The Marines would test fire the cruise mis­sile through 2022 with the aim of mak­ing it oper­a­tional the fol­low­ing year, top Pen­ta­gon com­man­ders tes­ti­fied.

At first, a rel­a­tive­ly small num­ber of land-based cruise mis­siles will not change the bal­ance of pow­er. But such a shift would send a strong polit­i­cal sig­nal that Wash­ing­ton is prepar­ing to com­pete with China’s mas­sive arse­nal, accord­ing to senior U.S. and oth­er West­ern strate­gists. Longer term, big­ger num­bers of these weapons com­bined with sim­i­lar Japan­ese and Tai­wanese mis­siles would pose a seri­ous threat to Chi­nese forces, they say. The biggest imme­di­ate threat to the PLA comes from new, long-range anti-ship mis­siles now enter­ing ser­vice with U.S. Navy and Air Force strike air­craft.

“The Amer­i­cans are com­ing back strong­ly,” said Ross Bab­bage, a for­mer senior Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment defense offi­cial and now a non-res­i­dent fel­low at the Wash­ing­ton-based Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Bud­getary Assess­ments, a secu­ri­ty research group. “By 2024 or 2025 there is a seri­ous risk for the PLA that their mil­i­tary devel­op­ments will be obso­lete.”

A Chi­nese mil­i­tary spokesman, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, warned last Octo­ber that Bei­jing would “not stand by” if Wash­ing­ton deployed land-based, long-range mis­siles in the Asia-Pacif­ic region.

China’s for­eign min­istry accused the Unit­ed States of stick­ing “to its cold war men­tal­i­ty” and “con­stant­ly increas­ing mil­i­tary deploy­ment” in the region.

“Recent­ly, the Unit­ed States has got­ten worse, step­ping up its pur­suit of a so-called ‘Indo-Pacif­ic strat­e­gy’ that seeks to deploy new weapons, includ­ing ground-launched inter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles, in the Asia-Pacif­ic region,” the min­istry said in a state­ment to Reuters. “Chi­na firm­ly oppos­es that.”

Pen­ta­gon spokesman Lieu­tenant Colonel Dave East­burn said he would not com­ment on state­ments by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment or the PLA.

U.S. MILITARY UNSHACKLED

While the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic rages, Bei­jing has increased its mil­i­tary pres­sure on Tai­wan and exer­cis­es in the South Chi­na Sea. In a show of strength, on April 11 the Chi­nese air­craft car­ri­er Liaon­ing led a flotil­la of five oth­er war­ships into the West­ern Pacif­ic through the Miyako Strait to the north­east of Tai­wan, accord­ing to Taiwan’s Defense Min­istry. On April 12, the Chi­nese war­ships exer­cised in waters east and south of Tai­wan, the min­istry said.

Mean­while, the U.S. Navy was forced to tie up the air­craft car­ri­er USS Theodore Roo­sevelt at Guam while it bat­tles to con­tain a coro­n­avirus out­break among the crew of the giant war­ship. How­ev­er, the U.S. Navy man­aged to main­tain a pow­er­ful pres­ence off the Chi­nese coast. The guid­ed-mis­sile destroy­er USS Bar­ry passed through the Tai­wan Strait twice in April. And the amphibi­ous assault ship USS Amer­i­ca last month exer­cised in the East Chi­na Sea and South Chi­na Sea, the U.S. Indo-Pacif­ic Com­mand said.

In a series last year, Reuters report­ed that while the U.S. was dis­tract­ed by almost two decades of war in the Mid­dle East and Afghanistan, the PLA had built a mis­sile force designed to attack the air­craft car­ri­ers, oth­er sur­face war­ships and net­work of bases that form the back­bone of Amer­i­can pow­er in Asia. Over that peri­od, Chi­nese ship­yards built the world’s biggest navy, which is now capa­ble of dom­i­nat­ing the country’s coastal waters and keep­ing U.S. forces at bay.

The series also revealed that in most cat­e­gories, China’s mis­siles now rival or out­per­form coun­ter­parts in the armories of the U.S. alliance.

To read the series, click here

Chi­na derived an advan­tage because it was not par­ty to a Cold War-era treaty — the Inter­me­di­ate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) — that banned the Unit­ed States and Rus­sia from pos­sess­ing ground-launched bal­lis­tic and cruise mis­siles with ranges from 500 kilo­me­ters to 5,500 kilo­me­ters. Unre­strained by the INF pact, Chi­na has deployed about 2,000 of these weapons, accord­ing to U.S. and oth­er West­ern esti­mates.

While build­ing up its mis­sile forces on land, the PLA also fit­ted pow­er­ful, long-range anti-ship mis­siles to its war­ships and strike air­craft.

This accu­mu­lat­ed fire­pow­er has shift­ed the region­al bal­ance of pow­er in China’s favor. The Unit­ed States, long the dom­i­nant mil­i­tary pow­er in Asia, can no longer be con­fi­dent of vic­to­ry in a mil­i­tary clash in waters off the Chi­nese coast, accord­ing to senior retired U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cers.

But the deci­sion by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last year to exit the INF treaty has giv­en Amer­i­can mil­i­tary plan­ners new lee­way. Almost imme­di­ate­ly after with­draw­ing from the pact on August 2, the admin­is­tra­tion sig­naled it would respond to China’s mis­sile force. The next day, U.S. Sec­re­tary for Defense Mark Esper said he would like to see ground-based mis­siles deployed in Asia with­in months, but he acknowl­edged it would take longer.

Lat­er that month, the Pen­ta­gon test­ed a ground-launched Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­sile. In Decem­ber, it test­ed a ground-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile. The INF treaty banned such ground-launched weapons, and thus both tests would have been for­bid­den.

A senior Marines com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Eric Smith, told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on March 11 that the Pen­ta­gon lead­er­ship had instruct­ed the Marines to field a ground-launched cruise mis­sile “very quick­ly.”

The bud­get doc­u­ments show that the Marines have request­ed $125 mil­lion to buy 48 Tom­a­hawk mis­siles from next year. The Tom­a­hawk has a range of 1,600km, accord­ing to its man­u­fac­tur­er, Raytheon Com­pa­ny.

Smith said the cruise mis­sile may not ulti­mate­ly prove to be the most suit­able weapon for the Marines. “It may be a lit­tle too heavy for us,” he told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, but expe­ri­ence gained from the tests could be trans­ferred to the army.

Smith also said the Marines had suc­cess­ful­ly test­ed a new short­er-range anti-ship weapon, the Naval Strike Mis­sile, from a ground launch­er and would con­duct anoth­er test in June. He said if that test was suc­cess­ful, the Marines intend­ed to order 36 of these mis­siles in 2022. The U.S. Army is also test­ing a new long-range, land-based mis­sile that can tar­get war­ships. This mis­sile would have been pro­hib­it­ed under the INF treaty.

The Marine Corps said in a state­ment it was eval­u­at­ing the Naval Strike Mis­sile to tar­get ships and the Tom­a­hawk for attack­ing tar­gets on land. Even­tu­al­ly, the Marines aimed to field a sys­tem “that could engage long-range mov­ing tar­gets either on land or sea,” the state­ment said.

The Defense Depart­ment also has research under­way on new, long-range strike weapons, with a bud­get request of $3.2 bil­lion for hyper­son­ic tech­nol­o­gy, most­ly for mis­siles.

China’s for­eign min­istry drew a dis­tinc­tion between the PLA’s arse­nal of mis­siles and the planned U.S. deploy­ment. It said China’s mis­siles were “locat­ed in its ter­ri­to­ry, espe­cial­ly short and medi­um-range mis­siles, which can­not reach the main­land of the Unit­ed States. This is fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent from the U.S., which is vig­or­ous­ly push­ing for­ward deploy­ment.”

BOTTLING UP CHINA’S NAVY

Mil­i­tary strate­gists James Holmes and Toshi Yoshi­hara sug­gest­ed almost a decade ago that the first island chain was a nat­ur­al bar­ri­er that could be exploit­ed by the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary to counter the Chi­nese naval build-up. Ground-based anti-ship mis­siles could com­mand key pas­sages through the island chain into the West­ern Pacif­ic as part of a strat­e­gy to keep the rapid­ly expand­ing Chi­nese navy bot­tled up, they sug­gest­ed.

In embrac­ing this strat­e­gy, Wash­ing­ton is attempt­ing to turn Chi­nese tac­tics back on the PLA. Senior U.S. com­man­ders have warned that China’s land-based cruise and bal­lis­tic mis­siles would make it dif­fi­cult for U.S. and allied navies to oper­ate near China’s coastal waters.

But deploy­ing ground-based U.S. and allied mis­siles in the island chain would pose a sim­i­lar threat to Chi­nese war­ships — to ves­sels oper­at­ing in the South Chi­na Sea, East Chi­na Sea and Yel­low Sea, or ships attempt­ing to break out into the West­ern Pacif­ic. Japan and Tai­wan have already deployed ground-based anti-ship mis­siles for this pur­pose.

“We need to be able to plug up the straits,” said Holmes, a pro­fes­sor at the U.S. Naval War Col­lege. “We can, in effect, ask them if they want Tai­wan or the Senkakus bad­ly enough to see their econ­o­my and armed forces cut off from the West­ern Pacif­ic and Indi­an Ocean. In all like­li­hood the answer will be no.”

Holmes was refer­ring to the unin­hab­it­ed group of isles in the East Chi­na Sea — known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in Chi­na — that are claimed by both Tokyo and Bei­jing.

The Unit­ed States faces chal­lenges in plug­ging the first island chain. Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Rodri­go Duterte’s deci­sion to dis­tance him­self from the Unit­ed States and forge clos­er ties with Chi­na is a poten­tial obsta­cle to Amer­i­can plans. U.S. forces could face bar­ri­ers to oper­at­ing from strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant islands in the Philip­pines arch­i­pel­ago after Duterte in Feb­ru­ary scrapped a key secu­ri­ty agree­ment with Wash­ing­ton.

And if U.S. forces do deploy in the first island chain with anti-ship mis­siles, some U.S. strate­gists believe this won’t be deci­sive, as the Marines would be vul­ner­a­ble to strikes from the Chi­nese mil­i­tary.

The Unit­ed States has oth­er coun­ter­weights. The fire­pow­er of long-range U.S. Air Force bombers could pose a big­ger threat to Chi­nese forces than the Marines, the strate­gists said. Par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive, they said, could be the stealthy B‑21 bomber, which is due to enter ser­vice in the mid­dle of this decade, armed with long-range mis­siles.

The Pen­ta­gon is already mov­ing to boost the fire­pow­er of its exist­ing strike air­craft in Asia. U.S. Navy Super Hor­net jets and Air Force B‑1 bombers are now being armed with ear­ly deliv­er­ies of Lock­heed Martin’s new Long Range Anti-Ship Mis­sile, accord­ing to the bud­get request doc­u­ments. The new mis­sile is being deployed in response to an “urgent oper­a­tional need” for the U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand, the doc­u­ments explain.

The new mis­sile car­ries a 450 kilo­gram war­head and is capa­ble of “semi-autonomous” tar­get­ing, giv­ing it some abil­i­ty to steer itself, accord­ing to the bud­get request. Details of the stealthy cruise missile’s range are clas­si­fied. But U.S. and oth­er West­ern mil­i­tary offi­cials esti­mate it can strike tar­gets at dis­tances greater than 800 kilo­me­ters.

The bud­get doc­u­ments show the Pen­ta­gon is seek­ing $224 mil­lion to order anoth­er 53 of these mis­siles in 2021. The U.S. Navy and Air Force expect to have more than 400 of them in ser­vice by 2025, accord­ing to orders pro­ject­ed in the doc­u­ments.

This new anti-ship mis­sile is derived from an exist­ing Lock­heed long-range, land attack weapon, the Joint Air-to-Sur­face Stand­off Mis­sile. The Pen­ta­gon is ask­ing for $577 mil­lion next year to order anoth­er 400 of these land-attack mis­siles.

“The U.S. and allied focus on long-range land-attack and anti-ship cruise mis­siles was the quick­est way to rebuild long-range con­ven­tion­al fire­pow­er in the West­ern Pacif­ic region,” said Robert Had­dick, a for­mer U.S. Marine Corps offi­cer and now a vis­it­ing senior fel­low at the Mitchell Insti­tute for Aero­space Stud­ies based in Arling­ton, Vir­ginia.

For the U.S. Navy in Asia, Super Hor­net jets oper­at­ing from air­craft car­ri­ers and armed with the new anti-ship mis­sile would deliv­er a major boost in fire­pow­er while allow­ing the expen­sive war­ships to oper­ate fur­ther away from poten­tial threats, U.S. and oth­er West­ern mil­i­tary offi­cials say.

Cur­rent and retired U.S. Navy offi­cers have been urg­ing the Pen­ta­gon to equip Amer­i­can war­ships with longer-range anti-ship mis­siles that would allow them to com­pete with the lat­est, heav­i­ly armed Chi­nese cruis­ers, destroy­ers and frigates. Lock­heed has said it suc­cess­ful­ly test-fired one of the new Long Range Anti-Ship Mis­siles from the type of launch­er used on U.S. and allied war­ships.

Had­dick, one of the first to draw atten­tion to China’s fire­pow­er advan­tage in his 2014 book, “Fire on the Water,” said the threat from Chi­nese mis­siles had gal­va­nized the Pen­ta­gon with new strate­gic think­ing and bud­gets now direct­ed at prepar­ing for high-tech­nol­o­gy con­flict with pow­er­ful nations like Chi­na.

Had­dick said the new mis­siles were crit­i­cal to the defen­sive plans of Amer­i­ca and its allies in the West­ern Pacif­ic. The gap won’t close imme­di­ate­ly, but fire­pow­er would grad­u­al­ly improve, Had­dick said. “This is espe­cial­ly true dur­ing the next half-decade and more, as suc­ces­sor hyper­son­ic and oth­er clas­si­fied muni­tion designs com­plete their long peri­ods of devel­op­ment, test­ing, pro­duc­tion, and deploy­ment,” he said.

6. The pro­gram con­cludes with an exam­ple of the war-mon­ger­ing rhetoric that has become accept­able in US nation­al secu­ri­ty cir­cles. An arti­cle co-writ­ten by a for­mer Marine Corps Colonel espous­es the use of “privateers”–armed pirates on Chi­na’s large mer­chant fleet.

Hav­ing achieved the rank of colonel in the Marine Corps, Can­cian is obvi­ous­ly no fool. It is unthink­able that he does not know either the lyrics of, nor the mean­ing of the lyrics of, the Marine Corps Hymn. “From the Halls of Mon­tezu­ma to the Shores of Tripoli . . .” The lat­ter is a ref­er­ence to one of the first Marine Corps actions against the Bar­bary Pirates of North Africa in the first decade of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry.

The actions espoused by Can­cian and Schwartz would be seen as an act of war.

Just imag­ine the reac­tion in this coun­try if a retired Chi­nese colonel wrote in a Chi­nese mil­i­tary jour­nal, espous­ing the use of armed pirates against U.S. mer­chant ship­ping!

“Unleash the Pri­va­teers!” by Colonel Mark Can­cian [USMC—Retired] and Bran­don Schwartz; Unit­ed States Naval Insti­tute; April 2020.

Naval strate­gists are strug­gling to find ways to counter a ris­ing Chi­nese Navy. The eas­i­est and most com­fort­able course is to ask for more ships and air­craft, but with a defense bud­get that may have reached its peak, that may not be a viable strat­e­gy. Pri­va­teer­ing, autho­rized by let­ters of mar­que, could offer a low-cost tool to enhance deter­rence in peace­time and gain advan­tage in wartime. It would attack an asym­met­ric vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Chi­na, which has a much larg­er mer­chant fleet than the Unit­ed States. Indeed, an attack on Chi­nese glob­al trade would under­mine China’s entire econ­o­my and threat­en the regime’s sta­bil­i­ty. Final­ly, despite per­va­sive myths to the con­trary, U.S. pri­va­teer­ing is not pro­hib­it­ed by U.S. or inter­na­tion­al law. . . .

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR#1187 The Oswald Institute of Virology, Part 6: Context, Part 2”

  1. It was basi­cal­ly a giv­en that the US saber-rat­tling direct­ed at Chi­na will increase in both pitch and vol­ume the clos­er we get to the 2022 Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics. Espe­cial­ly in the con­text of a West­ern pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign to not just pin the out­break of the SARS-CoV­‑2 pan­dem­ic on the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy but sug­gest the virus was specif­i­cal­ly devel­oped as a bio­log­i­cal weapon. We even had Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Tom Cot­ton assert­ing back in April of 2020 that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment delib­er­ate­ly allowed the virus to spread around the world. The howls are only going to grow. It’s the kind of glob­al con­text that turns the 2022 Olympics into the per­fect foil for what­ev­er nar­ra­tive peo­ple want to devel­op. A kind of “The CCP is plan­ning [insert dia­bol­i­cal plot here]” choose-you-own-adven­ture tem­plate.

    And yet, despite that con­text that ensures the hyper­alarmism around the 2022 Olympics will be cranked up to 11 until those games are over, we have the fol­low­ing sto­ry that unhinged even by the debased stan­dards of our times: Tom Cot­ton is now assert­ing that Chi­na is going to use the 2022 Olympics to steal the genet­ic infor­ma­tion from the world’s top ath­letes to cre­ate super-sol­diers. Back­ing up Cot­ton in per­ma-Chi­na-hawk Gor­dan Chang, who backs up Cot­ton’s warn­ings about the Olympics being used as a giant DNA har­vest­ing exer­cise. Chang warns that Chi­na may not only be inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing super-sol­diers but could also use that genet­ic infor­ma­tion to design bio­log­i­cal weapons that tar­get­ing every­one peo­ple with a Chi­nese genet­ic back­ground.

    It’s the kind of pro­pa­gan­da that’s so stu­pid on so many lev­els it’s dif­fi­cult to know where to begin. Yes, Chi­na could indeed be attempt­ing to devel­op eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal war­fare agents. There isn’t evi­dence of this, but log­i­cal­ly speak­ing it would­n’t be shock­ing if true. What would be shock­ing, beyond shock­ing in fact, is the notion that DNA from Olympic ath­letes would some­how be need­ed for Chi­na to accom­plish this. It’s not like Chi­na is going to have dif­fi­cul­ty obtain­ing non-Chi­nese DNA and there’s noth­ing spe­cial about
    Olympian DNA when it comes to design­ing virus­es.

    Now, yes, it’s pos­si­ble the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment would have an inter­est in obtain­ing a cat­a­log of the world’s Olympic ath­letes. In fact, it’s indis­putable that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has an inter­est in under­stand­ing the rela­tion­ship between genet­ics and ath­let­ics. The gov­ern­ment announced in 2018 that all ath­letes com­pet­ing to rep­re­sent Chi­na in the 2022 Olympics would have to sub­mit their DNA for whole genome sequenc­ing as part of a new Chi­nese gov­ern­ment project. The inter­est is clear­ly there. An inter­est prob­a­bly shared with every oth­er gov­ern­ment on the plan­et. Uzbek­istan jhas already start­ed gene-hunt­ing for its future star ath­letes. Such a cat­a­log of top ath­lete genomes could allow for some poten­tial­ly very inter­est­ing stud­ies. And yet, if we had to think of a coun­try on the plan­et that is best equipped to con­duct large scale stud­ies explor­ing the impact of dif­fer­ent genet­ic vari­ants on athletic/military per­for­mance, it’s hard to think of a coun­try bet­ter posi­tioned to do that than the most pop­u­lace coun­try on the plan­et. Yes, Chi­na may not have quite eth­nic diver­si­ty of a place like the US, but it’s still huge coun­try with sig­nif­i­cant genet­ic diver­si­ty. If Chi­na wants to hunt for par­tic­u­lar genet­ic traits it’s not there’s going to be a prob­lem with sta­tis­ti­cal sam­ple sizes.

    Sim­i­lar­ly, sure, Chi­na may have an inter­est in devel­op­ing eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal weapons. An inter­est also prob­a­bly shared with every oth­er major gov­ern­ment on the plan­et. And yet, again, it is entire­ly unclear what on earth Olympic ath­lete DNA would have to do with that? Are the Chi­nese going to design bio­log­i­cal weapons to tar­get Olympic ath­letes? Are they some­how unable to obtain non-Chi­nese DNA with­out the arrival of these Olympic teams? What’s the log­ic here? And that’s just it. There is no log­ic here because this is pro­pa­gan­da. Log­ic isn’t just beside the point. It gets in the way. It’s why we should expect these anti-Chi­nese hys­ter­ics to only get more and more hys­ter­i­cal the clos­er over the next year.

    But it’s also impor­tant to keep in mind one of the oth­er core attrib­ut­es of con­tem­po­rary West­ern far right pro­pa­gan­da: pro­jec­tion. Seem­ing­ly patho­log­i­cal pro­jec­tion to the point where it’s like a tick. It is per­haps the most dis­turb­ing aspect of right-wing dis­in­for­ma­tion: wrapped in the pack of lies is a warn­ing of intent. Con­sis­tent­ly.

    And that’s why we have to ask: what exact­ly is Tom Cot­ton think­ing about in terms of the future of US bio­log­i­cal war­fare capa­bil­i­ties and super-sol­dier pro­grams? We’ve been learn­ing about the Pen­tagon’s own super-sol­dier pro­grams for years. There’s pre­sum­ably always going to exist a super-sol­dier pro­gram as long as the Pen­ta­gon exists. And we can be pret­ty con­fi­dent a Sen­a­tor like Tom Cot­ton is going to be deeply involved in the con­gres­sion­al over­sight of those pro­grams to the extent that any over­sight exists. What is Tom Cot­ton pro­ject­ing here?

    But it’s not just wingnuts Cot­ton and Chang. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, Cot­ton’s warn­ings about Chi­nese inter­est in US genet­ic data showed up in a Feb­ru­ary 2021 Nation­al Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Cen­ter fact sheet titled “CHINA’S COLLECTION OF GENOMIC AND OTHER HEATHCARE DATA FROM AMERICA: RISKS TO PRIVACY AND U.S. ECONOMIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY.”, which was cit­ed in the let­ter Cot­ton sent to Pres­i­dent Biden this week warn­ing about Chi­na’s genet­ic scheme. In oth­er words, these con­cerns about Chi­nese Olympic genet­ic ambi­tions are metas­ta­siz­ing across the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty as the 2022 Olympics approach:

    Talk­ing Points Memo

    Inside Tom Cotton’s Insane World Of DNA Theft, Olympic Ath­letes, And Anti-Chi­na Con­spir­a­cies

    By Josh Koven­sky
    June 16, 2021 3:48 p.m.

    In the minds of the right, the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­nist threat is back. And this time, it’s not just per­son­al — it’s genet­ic.

    At least, that’s accord­ing to a let­ter that Sen. Tom Cot­ton (R‑AR) sent to Pres­i­dent Biden this week.

    In the let­ter, Cot­ton warns Biden that Bei­jing plans on using the 2022 Win­ter Olympics as a giant fun­nel for pre­cious Amer­i­can DNA, har­vest­ing the nation’s fittest and finest for their genom­ic infor­ma­tion as part of a plan to achieve mil­i­tary dom­i­nance.

    Writ­ten in the lan­guage of a Cold War-era B‑movie and filled with a mix­ture of sci-fi schem­ing, eugen­ics, and sten­to­ri­an warn­ing, Cot­ton demands that Biden with­draw Amer­i­can par­tic­i­pa­tion from the 2022 win­ter Olympics absent guar­an­tees from Chi­na that it will not col­lect the data or DNA of vis­it­ing Amer­i­can olympians.

    “In 2022, thou­sands of world-class ath­letes will gath­er to com­pete in Chi­na,” the let­ter reads. “Their DNA will present an irre­sistible tar­get for the CCP.”

    He added that, “thus, we should expect that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment will attempt to col­lect genet­ic sam­ples of Olympians at the Games, per­haps dis­guised as test­ing for ille­gal drugs or COVID-19.”

    Why, you, the White House, or unsus­pect­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly ranked snow­board­ers may ask, would the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment wish to do this?

    The answer, Cot­ton wrote, is sim­ple: super­sol­diers.

    “The CCP has report­ed­ly con­duct­ed tests to devel­op bio­log­i­cal­ly-enhanced sol­diers and intends to use DNA data to cat­a­pult Chi­nese biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies to glob­al mar­ket dom­i­nance,” Cot­ton wrote, cit­ing a col­umn writ­ten by Trump-era Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence John Rat­cliffe.

    ...

    Gor­don Chang, author of the 2001 book “The Com­ing Col­lapse of Chi­na,” sup­ports Cotton’s demands, though he told TPM that he did not con­sult with the sen­a­tor on the let­ter.

    “If you want to devel­op a race of super­hu­man Chi­nese, you would cer­tain­ly want the DNA of the world’s most fit and ath­let­ic peo­ple,” Chang said. He added that the Chi­nese could har­vest the flood of fig­ure skaters, curl­ing play­ers, and bob­sleigh jock­eys for their most promis­ing traits, though he said that Bei­jing would most like­ly be inter­est­ed in “super­in­tel­li­gence.”

    Chang echoed Cotton’s sug­ges­tion that the Chi­nese would har­vest DNA through COVID test­ing.

    The ath­letes, Chang mused, “are going to eat stuff, leave nap­kins around the place — they’re going to poop. They’re going to leave a lot of DNA.”

    Rat­cliffe wrote in his Decem­ber 2020 Wall Street Jour­nal col­umn that “Chi­na has even con­duct­ed human test­ing on mem­bers of the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army in hope of devel­op­ing sol­diers with bio­log­i­cal­ly enhanced capa­bil­i­ties,” cit­ing unspec­i­fied intel­li­gence.

    That strain of thought appears to have made it into the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty itself, with the Nation­al Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Cen­ter in Feb­ru­ary 2021 releas­ing a fact sheet cit­ed in Cotton’s let­ter titled “CHINA’S COLLECTION OF GENOMIC AND OTHER HEATHCARE DATA FROM AMERICA: RISKS TO PRIVACY AND U.S. ECONOMIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY.”

    That doc­u­ment informs read­ers that “your DNA is the most valu­able thing you own.” A DNI spokesman told TPM that the agency stands by the report.

    “Los­ing your DNA is not like los­ing a cred­it card,” the doc­u­ment reads. “You can order a new cred­it card, but you can­not replace your DNA.”

    It’s a bit of a non-sequitur from there to the document’s next claim, which is not that the Chi­nese plan on depriv­ing you, cit­i­zen, of your DNA: rather, it is a “strate­gic com­mod­i­ty to be col­lect­ed and used for its eco­nom­ic and nation­al-secu­ri­ty pri­or­i­ties.”

    The doc­u­ment is silent on what exact uses the Chi­nese would have for Amer­i­can genet­ic mate­r­i­al. It cites the country’s sprawl­ing and inva­sive sur­veil­lance sys­tem, say­ing that Bei­jing includes genom­ic infor­ma­tion to iden­ti­fy its cit­i­zens and links the col­lec­tion of DNA to the mass intern­ment of the Uighur minor­i­ty.

    It’s total­ly unclear how those abus­es relate to a super­sol­dier pro­gram.

    But accord­ing to Cleo Paskal, a senior fel­low at the Foun­da­tion for the Defense of Democ­ra­cies whose May col­umn “Is Bei­jing Plan­ning a Rob, Repli­cate, Replace Olympics??” was cit­ed in Cotton’s let­ter, it has to do with war.

    “There are defen­sive and offen­sive aspects to it,” Paskal told TPM. “One is you could under­stand bet­ter the genet­ics of high per­form­ing indi­vid­u­als, lung capac­i­ty, heart, the oth­er is that you could fig­ure out how to attack peo­ple from a wide range of dif­fer­ent genet­ic pro­file back­grounds.”

    She told TPM that Cotton’s office had called her to ver­i­fy a quote in the let­ter that it even­tu­al­ly sent to Biden.

    FDD has long dis­tin­guished itself as one of D.C.’s most hawk­ish think tanks among a blob of for­eign pol­i­cy out­fits that already make them­selves known for favor­ing mil­i­tary solu­tions when­ev­er pos­si­ble.

    Paskal told TPM that Chi­na was like­ly plan­ning on using infor­ma­tion gath­ered from the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics to refine its mil­i­tary oper­a­tions against India in the cold-weath­er, high-alti­tude Himalaya moun­tains. The two nations clashed there last year.

    “If you’re involved in cold weath­er fight­ing — which they are in the Himalayas, they’ve now got peo­ple who have spent mil­lions of dol­lars per­fect­ing cold weath­er equip­ment — the tech is com­ing to you,” she said, refer­ring to the Olympics. “As is the train­ing regime — how do you train to be in top shape in cold weath­er envi­ron­ments? What do you eat? How do you com­bine indi­vid­ual genet­ics with train­ing to be most effec­tive.”

    Chang, the author, took it even fur­ther — the offen­sive capa­bil­i­ty would not just be super­sol­diers, but super­weapons: “pathogens that leave the Chi­nese immune but sick­en and kill every­one else.”

    When asked whether the tech­nol­o­gy was there for that, he replied, “I don’t know if they’ve devel­oped those pathogens, but we don’t want the first evi­dence of that to be 330 mil­lion dead Amer­i­cans.”

    ————

    “Inside Tom Cotton’s Insane World Of DNA Theft, Olympic Ath­letes, And Anti-Chi­na Con­spir­a­cies” by Josh Koven­sky; Talk­ing Points Memo; 06/16/2021

    “In the let­ter, Cot­ton warns Biden that Bei­jing plans on using the 2022 Win­ter Olympics as a giant fun­nel for pre­cious Amer­i­can DNA, har­vest­ing the nation’s fittest and finest for their genom­ic infor­ma­tion as part of a plan to achieve mil­i­tary dom­i­nance.

    First: col­lect the Olympic DNA. Next: [do mys­tery stuff with DNA]. Final­ly: mil­i­tary dom­i­nance. That’s the dia­bol­i­cal Chi­nese plan laid out in a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Biden this week from Sen­a­tor Tom Cot­ton. And in that let­ter we find a cita­tion to a Decem­ber 2020 WSJ col­umn by Trump-era Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence John Rat­cliffe. Rat­clif­fe’s assess­ment also made its way into a Feb­ru­ary 2021 Nation­al Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Cen­ter fact sheet. A fact sheet that could­n’t give actu­al exam­ples of how Chi­na was plan­ning on using the DNA infor­ma­tion of the Amer­i­can pub­lic its alleged­ly har­vest­ing. It’s one of the iron­ic fea­tures of hyper­alarmism: it tends to be extreme­ly vague hyper­alarmism:

    ...
    Why, you, the White House, or unsus­pect­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly ranked snow­board­ers may ask, would the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment wish to do this?

    The answer, Cot­ton wrote, is sim­ple: super­sol­diers.

    “The CCP has report­ed­ly con­duct­ed tests to devel­op bio­log­i­cal­ly-enhanced sol­diers and intends to use DNA data to cat­a­pult Chi­nese biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies to glob­al mar­ket dom­i­nance,” Cot­ton wrote, cit­ing a col­umn writ­ten by Trump-era Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence John Rat­cliffe.

    ...

    Rat­cliffe wrote in his Decem­ber 2020 Wall Street Jour­nal col­umn that “Chi­na has even con­duct­ed human test­ing on mem­bers of the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army in hope of devel­op­ing sol­diers with bio­log­i­cal­ly enhanced capa­bil­i­ties,” cit­ing unspec­i­fied intel­li­gence.

    That strain of thought appears to have made it into the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty itself, with the Nation­al Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Cen­ter in Feb­ru­ary 2021 releas­ing a fact sheet cit­ed in Cotton’s let­ter titled “CHINA’S COLLECTION OF GENOMIC AND OTHER HEATHCARE DATA FROM AMERICA: RISKS TO PRIVACY AND U.S. ECONOMIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY.”

    That doc­u­ment informs read­ers that “your DNA is the most valu­able thing you own.” A DNI spokesman told TPM that the agency stands by the report.

    “Los­ing your DNA is not like los­ing a cred­it card,” the doc­u­ment reads. “You can order a new cred­it card, but you can­not replace your DNA.”

    It’s a bit of a non-sequitur from there to the document’s next claim, which is not that the Chi­nese plan on depriv­ing you, cit­i­zen, of your DNA: rather, it is a “strate­gic com­mod­i­ty to be col­lect­ed and used for its eco­nom­ic and nation­al-secu­ri­ty pri­or­i­ties.”

    The doc­u­ment is silent on what exact uses the Chi­nese would have for Amer­i­can genet­ic mate­r­i­al. It cites the country’s sprawl­ing and inva­sive sur­veil­lance sys­tem, say­ing that Bei­jing includes genom­ic infor­ma­tion to iden­ti­fy its cit­i­zens and links the col­lec­tion of DNA to the mass intern­ment of the Uighur minor­i­ty.

    ...

    And then there’s Gor­don Chang, who is warn­ing not just that Chi­na will use Amer­i­can DNA infor­ma­tion to enhance its own biotech sec­tor but also that Chi­na is going to use this infor­ma­tion to devel­op eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal weapons:

    ...
    Gor­don Chang, author of the 2001 book “The Com­ing Col­lapse of Chi­na,” sup­ports Cotton’s demands, though he told TPM that he did not con­sult with the sen­a­tor on the let­ter.

    “If you want to devel­op a race of super­hu­man Chi­nese, you would cer­tain­ly want the DNA of the world’s most fit and ath­let­ic peo­ple,” Chang said. He added that the Chi­nese could har­vest the flood of fig­ure skaters, curl­ing play­ers, and bob­sleigh jock­eys for their most promis­ing traits, though he said that Bei­jing would most like­ly be inter­est­ed in “super­in­tel­li­gence.”

    ...

    Chang, the author, took it even fur­ther — the offen­sive capa­bil­i­ty would not just be super­sol­diers, but super­weapons: “pathogens that leave the Chi­nese immune but sick­en and kill every­one else.”

    When asked whether the tech­nol­o­gy was there for that, he replied, “I don’t know if they’ve devel­oped those pathogens, but we don’t want the first evi­dence of that to be 330 mil­lion dead Amer­i­cans.”
    ...

    Sim­i­lar­ly, we have warn­ings from Cleo Paskal, a senior fel­low at the Foun­da­tion for the Defense of Democ­ra­cies, that Chi­na might use that genet­ic infor­ma­tion to learn how to attack peo­ple from a wide range of genet­ic pro­files. Appar­ent­ly Chi­na just would­n’t have access to non-Chi­nese DNA pro­files with­out these secret Olympic har­vest­ing schemes:

    ...
    But accord­ing to Cleo Paskal, a senior fel­low at the Foun­da­tion for the Defense of Democ­ra­cies whose May col­umn “Is Bei­jing Plan­ning a Rob, Repli­cate, Replace Olympics??” was cit­ed in Cotton’s let­ter, it has to do with war.

    “There are defen­sive and offen­sive aspects to it,” Paskal told TPM. “One is you could under­stand bet­ter the genet­ics of high per­form­ing indi­vid­u­als, lung capac­i­ty, heart, the oth­er is that you could fig­ure out how to attack peo­ple from a wide range of dif­fer­ent genet­ic pro­file back­grounds.”

    ...

    Paskal told TPM that Chi­na was like­ly plan­ning on using infor­ma­tion gath­ered from the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics to refine its mil­i­tary oper­a­tions against India in the cold-weath­er, high-alti­tude Himalaya moun­tains. The two nations clashed there last year.
    ...

    So what have we learned here? Well, we def­i­nite­ly have NOT learned about any loom­ing threat from a Chi­nese DNA har­vest­ing pro­gram because these warn­ing can’t actu­al­ly cite a log­i­cal coher­ent threat. But we have learned that a large seg­ment of the pro­fes­sion­al Chi­na-alarmism indus­try knows next to noth­ing about genet­ics and what is and isn’t fea­si­ble with this tech­nol­o­gy. Yes, there are abun­dant rea­sons to be con­cerned about the devel­op­ment of eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal weapons or genet­ic super­sol­dier tech­nolo­gies, regard­less of which mil­i­tary is devel­op­ing these tech­nolo­gies. But the idea that these pro­grams would be reliant on the har­vest­ing of Olympic ath­lete DNA is the kind of absur­dist alarmism that ignores real­i­ty. For starters, if the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment REALLY wants to col­lect the DNA on some star non-Chi­nese ath­letes, they could just buy one of the exist­ing con­sumer DNA-test­ing com­pa­nies and sud­den­ly own the rights to all that DNA. Are there any start ath­letes in those data­bas­es?

    Or maybe they could secret­ly obtain that DNA from hair sam­ples, etc, from any com­pe­ti­tion around the globe where these star ath­letes are com­pet­ing. It’s not like Chi­nese spies can only col­lect a hair sam­ple while in Chi­na.

    Oh, and it’s worth not­ing that the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) has been open­ly con­sid­er­ing forc­ing all Olympic ath­letes to sub­mit DNA sam­ples for the pur­pose of iden­ti­fy­ing dop­ing. So genet­ic screen­ing of ALL Olympic ath­letes is prob­a­bly com­ing one of these years. Don’t for­get that mRNA tech­nol­o­gy will have plen­ty of poten­tial dop­ing appli­ca­tions. Vac­cines are just the start.

    It’s also worth recall­ing the 2017 push by the GOP in con­gress to allow US employ­ers to coerce their employ­ees into sub­mit­ting to genet­ic test­ing schemes that effec­tive­ly give the employ­er knowl­edge about their employ­ees’ genet­ic lia­bil­i­ties. Obtain­ing genet­ic infor­ma­tion on Amer­i­cans would be pret­ty easy for Chi­nese employ­ers at that point. Or just hack an employ­er and grab the info.

    Final­ly, regard­ing the warn­ings about Chi­na using US DNA to design tar­get­ed bioweapons that don’t impact peo­ple of Chi­nese ances­try, this is prob­a­bly a good time for Amer­i­cans to reminds them­selves that one of the many bonus­es of hav­ing a high­ly eth­ni­cal­ly diverse nation is that it con­fers an inher­ent degree of pro­tec­tion against bio­log­i­cal attacks of this nature. After all, it’s not like there aren’t Chi­nese-Amer­i­cans serv­ing in the US mil­i­tary. In oth­er words, the more genet­i­cal­ly diverse the US mil­i­tary is, the greater the pro­tec­tion against gene-based bio­log­i­cal attacks. Some­one might want to let Sen­a­tor Cot­ton know about this, although it prob­a­bly won’t do much to soothe his anx­i­eties.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 16, 2021, 5:21 pm
  2. This next June 20, 2021 Guardian Arti­cle by Robert Reich explains how China’s increas­ing­ly aggres­sive geopo­lit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic stance in the world is unleash­ing a fierce bipar­ti­san back­lash in Amer­i­ca. How­ev­er, the response will be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive if it is used to finance the mil­i­tary and increase con­flict with fight Chi­na instead of fund­ing research to make Amer­i­ca have tech­no­log­i­cal supe­ri­or­i­ty, a bet­ter infra­struc­ture or supe­ri­or edu­ca­tion for our cit­i­zens.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/20/the-uss-greatest-danger-isnt-china-its-much-closer-to-home?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

    The US’s great­est dan­ger isn’t Chi­na. It’s much clos­er to home

    The rival­ry with Chi­na is pal­pa­ble but his­to­ry teach­es us lessons about how it’s eas­i­er to blame oth­ers than blame our­selves

    The Guardian Sun 20 Jun 2021 02.00 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Sun 20 Jun 2021 05.44 EDT

    Robert Reich

    China’s increas­ing­ly aggres­sive geopo­lit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic stance in the world is unleash­ing a fierce bipar­ti­san back­lash in Amer­i­ca. That’s fine if it leads to more pub­lic invest­ment in basic research, edu­ca­tion, and infra­struc­ture – as did the Sput­nik shock of the late 1950s. But it pos­es dan­gers as well.

    More than 60 years ago, the sud­den and pal­pa­ble fear that the Sovi­et Union was lurch­ing ahead of us shook Amer­i­ca out of a post­war com­pla­cen­cy and caused the nation to do what it should have been doing for many years. Even though we did it under the pre­text of nation­al defense – we called it the Nation­al Defense Edu­ca­tion Act and the Nation­al Defense High­way Act and relied on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Admin­is­tra­tion for basic research lead­ing to semi­con­duc­tors, satel­lite tech­nol­o­gy, and the Inter­net – the result was to boost US pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and Amer­i­can wages for a gen­er­a­tion.

    When the Sovi­et Union began to implode, Amer­i­ca found its next foil in Japan. Japan­ese-made cars were tak­ing mar­ket share away from the Big Three automak­ers. Mean­while, Mit­subishi bought a sub­stan­tial inter­est in the Rock­e­feller Cen­ter, Sony pur­chased Colum­bia Pic­tures, and Nin­ten­do con­sid­ered buy­ing the Seat­tle Mariners. By the late 1980s and start of the 1990s, count­less con­gres­sion­al hear­ings were held on the Japan­ese “chal­lenge” to Amer­i­can com­pet­i­tive­ness and the Japan­ese “threat” to Amer­i­can jobs.

    A tide of books demo­nized Japan – Pat Choate’s Agents of Influ­ence alleged Tokyo’s alleged pay­offs to influ­en­tial Amer­i­cans were designed to achieve “effec­tive polit­i­cal dom­i­na­tion over the Unit­ed States”. Clyde Prestowitz’s Trad­ing Places argued that because of our fail­ure to respond ade­quate­ly to the Japan­ese chal­lenge “the pow­er of the Unit­ed States and the qual­i­ty of Amer­i­can life is dimin­ish­ing rapid­ly in every respect”. William S Dietrich’s In the Shad­ow of the Ris­ing Sun claimed Japan “threat­ens our way of life and ulti­mate­ly our free­doms as much as past dan­gers from Nazi Ger­many and the Sovi­et Union”.

    Robert Zielin­s­ki and Nigel Holloway’s Unequal Equi­ties argued that Japan rigged its cap­i­tal mar­kets to under­mine Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions. Daniel Burstein’s Yen! Japan’s New Finan­cial Empire and Its Threat to Amer­i­ca assert­ed that Japan’s grow­ing pow­er put the Unit­ed States at risk of falling prey to a “hos­tile Japan­ese ... world order”.

    And on it went: The Japan­ese Pow­er Game,The Com­ing War with Japan, Zaibat­su Amer­i­ca: How Japan­ese Firms are Col­o­niz­ing Vital US Indus­tries, The Silent War, Trade Wars.

    But there was no vicious plot. We failed to notice that Japan had invest­ed heav­i­ly in its own edu­ca­tion and infra­struc­ture – which enabled it to make high-qual­i­ty prod­ucts that Amer­i­can con­sumers want­ed to buy. We didn’t see that our own finan­cial sys­tem resem­bled a casi­no and demand­ed imme­di­ate prof­its. We over­looked that our edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem left almost 80% of our young peo­ple unable to com­pre­hend a news mag­a­zine and many oth­ers unpre­pared for work. And our infra­struc­ture of unsafe bridges and pot­holed roads were drain­ing our pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

    In the present case of Chi­na, the geopo­lit­i­cal rival­ry is pal­pa­ble. Yet at the same time, Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions and investors are qui­et­ly mak­ing bun­dles by run­ning low-wage fac­to­ries there and sell­ing tech­nol­o­gy to their Chi­nese “part­ners”. And Amer­i­can banks and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists are busi­ly under­writ­ing deals in Chi­na.

    I don’t mean to down­play the chal­lenge Chi­na rep­re­sents to the Unit­ed States. But through­out America’s post­war his­to­ry it has been eas­i­er to blame oth­ers than to blame our­selves.

    The great­est dan­ger we face today is not com­ing from Chi­na. It is our drift toward pro­to-fas­cism. We must be care­ful not to demo­nize Chi­na so much that we encour­age a new para­noia that fur­ther dis­torts our pri­or­i­ties, encour­ages nativism and xeno­pho­bia, and leads to larg­er mil­i­tary out­lays rather than pub­lic invest­ments in edu­ca­tion, infra­struc­ture, and basic research on which America’s future pros­per­i­ty and secu­ri­ty crit­i­cal­ly depend.

    The cen­tral ques­tion for Amer­i­ca – an ever more diverse Amer­i­ca, whose econ­o­my and cul­ture are rapid­ly fus­ing with the economies and cul­tures of the rest of the globe – is whether it is pos­si­ble to redis­cov­er our iden­ti­ty and our mutu­al respon­si­bil­i­ty with­out cre­at­ing anoth­er ene­my.

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    Posted by Mary Benton | June 20, 2021, 5:49 pm

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