Special Report by Clare Lopez
There’s little doubt anymore that COVID-19 originated in China. It’s very possible – likely even – that the Wuhan coronavirus was not released into the world on purpose. But it’s also a fact that the Chinese Communist regime runs a sophisticated offensive biological weapons program.
Chinese researchers at Beijing’s only declared BSL-4 (Bio Safety Level 4) lab, the Wuhan Virology Institute, have been publishing papers in the scientific literature for years now, explaining exactly how they were manipulating the genetic material of various coronavirus strains. They were not just looking for prophylactic drugs or vaccines to counter existing virus pathogens either. No, in the lab, they deliberately created new viruses by combining genetic material from pre-existing viruses in ways that are extremely unlikely to happen naturally—even by way of the typically active mutations that occur with RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses like coronaviruses. Then, whether on purpose or not, that Frankenstein virus got loose.
To put things in context, we should begin with a 1999 book written by two Chinese Communist Colonels in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It’s called “Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.” Stephen Coughlin has written a comprehensive analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic (“Formation of a COVID19 Red Team”) that begins with a close look at this Chinese warfare handbook. He warns that the U.S. is ill-prepared to defend itself “against hostilities waged at the political warfare level.” “Unrestricted Warfare” is an amazingly candid battle plan for waging war across a span of methods of operations that explicitly includes “Bio-chemical warfare, among other things like diplomatic warfare, economic warfare, electronic warfare, and space warfare. The point of the two Colonels’ thesis is that warfare should not be confined merely to military means but that by combining such other methods, “the other army is subdued without fighting.”
Michael Pillsbury, Director of the Center on Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute is a brilliant China scholar with decades of service in presidential administrations since the 1970s. In 2016, he published a book that draws on his deep understanding of Chinese culture, history, and thinking. “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower” is a fascinating read that puts “Unrestricted Warfare” into an historical context spanning millennia. One of his most important themes is that while the current Communist Chinese regime of Xi Jinping is steeped in the knowledge of how its historical predecessors (especially from the so-called “Warring States” period that spanned hundreds of years) used cunning, deceit, ruthlessness, and immense patience to defeat warlord rivals, the West—and especially the U.S.—neither knows nor appreciates much that happened before what we’d call the modern era. Our other fatal mistake is to think of warfare merely in military terms.
Which brings us back to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the “Made in China” Wuhan coronavirus.
A terrific young journalist at The Epoch Times named Joshua Philipp has produced a documentary film called “Tracking Down the Origin of Wuhan Coronavirus.” Philipp researched a vast amount of openly available information and put it together in a way easily accessible to the average viewer. He reports on the names, the labs, the timeline, and the medical science behind it all without overwhelming us with complicated technical jargon. Bottom line up front: this Wuhan coronavirus did not come from bats at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. It came from a Chinese laboratory where researchers deliberately experimented with ways to make both pre-existing and recombinant viruses more communicable and more effective at getting inside human cells.
As Philipp demonstrates, Chinese researchers have been working on coronaviruses for years. Earlier pandemics, including SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and H1N1 (swine flu), all came out of China, too. The Wuhan Institute of Virology, a subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was established in 2003 with help from the French government in the wake of the SARS outbreak. Due to myriad security concerns, it didn’t become operational as a P-4 (Pathogen/Protection level) laboratory until 2017. Its Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety is of particular concern.
Long before 2017, though, senior and internationally well-known researchers like Shi Zhengli, who worked in the Special Pathogens Lab, were experimenting on how to enhance the capacity of the coronavirus for transmission across species and specifically from animal reservoirs to humans. Shi Zhengli, widely known as the “bat lady” for her work on the bat coronavirus, has now disappeared but earlier published a number of papers in respected peer-reviewed journals like Nature Medicine. During the Obama administration, the Communist Chinese regime even paid the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to include Shi in a “gain of function” study on the potential for combining existing SARS-CoV genetic material together with the spike protein on the surface of the Chinese horseshoe bat virus in ways that would more readily transmit to and emerge in humans. Such a synthetic laboratory-created hybrid virus is called a “chimera” and was shown to be capable of “robust viral replication both in vitro and in vivo.” The in vivo reference is to mice, which were used to demonstrate the chimera’s deadly capabilities in mammals. What this means is that these researchers created something artificially in the lab that had never existed before and likely never would exist purely in nature.
The University of North Carolina study prior to 2014 had been conducted with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci). The objective of the study ostensibly was to prepare for possible future virus pandemics. In October 2014, however, HHS advised the University that U.S. Government funding for such “gain of function” research was being “paused.” The damage was done, though. Shi obviously continued the work back home at the Wuhan Institute of Virology because results of that “gain of function” chimera study were published in the December 2015 issue of Nature Medicine. Shi’s name is among the authors. American researchers, including Ralph S. Baric Ph.D., the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, also were named as co-authors of the study.
And then it got out. The Frankenstein synthetic lab-created virus got loose. We don’t really know how or whether it was deliberately released in some kind of “Unrestricted Warfare” scenario but get out it did.
So, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cover-up began in earnest. Conscientious and concerned doctors like Dr. Li Wenliang (who later died of the disease) began trying to sound the alarm about a new virus causing symptoms of unknown cause but were silenced and effectively “disappeared.” Labs were ordered to destroy coronavirus samples. On 2 January 2020, the Director General of the Wuhan Institute of Virology issued a strict prohibition against any dissemination of information about the Wuhan coronavirus. International and U.S. Centers for Disease Control scientists were prevented from traveling to China. On 7 February 2020, a top PLA Biological Warfare (BW) expert, Chen Wei, assumed control of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. A Wuhan Institute graduate student researcher named Huang Yanling is believed by some to have been “patient zero.” On 16 February 2020, the Institute issued an explicit denial that Huang Yanling had ever been one of its employees—but her photo, biography, and links to published research previously there were all removed from the official website.
Things go back even further, however. On 13 March 2020, the South China Morning Post reported that “patient zero” in fact may have been a 55-year old from Hubei province—and dated the contraction of the COVID-19 to 17 November 2019. That is a most interesting date, because just one day later, on 18 November 2019, the Wuhan Institute of Virology posted a job opening “asking for scientists to come research the relationship between the coronavirus and bats.” This job posting added that the prospective hire would “answer the molecular mechanism that can coexist with Ebola and SARS-associated coronavirus…” Ebola and SARS?!
That’s not all. On 24 December 2019, the Institute posted a second job opening that sought candidates to research a situation in which “the pathogenic biology of bats carrying important viruses has confirmed the origin of bats of major new human and livestock infectious diseases such as SARS…” Clearly, by mid-November 2019 and no later than early-to-mid-December 2019, CCP authorities knew they had a very serious situation on their hands but chose not to warn the World Health Organization (WHO) until 31 December 2019. Not until 9 January 2020 did Chinese authorities finally announce that a novel coronavirus was behind the Wuhan outbreak; the city was not placed on lockdown until 22 January. Thus, many thousands of Wuhan residents were permitted to leave Wuhan and travel throughout China and abroad to spread the deadly virus for many weeks to unsuspecting populations the world over.
Beijing’s CCP regime already knew that the Wuhan coronavirus was spreading human-to-human long before January 2020, because according to a February 15, 2020 article in the respected journal The Lancet, they’d traced early victims who’d had no connection with the Wuhan Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Given the early December 2019 date of those victims’ illness, the patients must have been infected sometime in November 2019. The CCP also knew, as we now do too, that the horseshoe bats it tries so hard to blame for the outbreak are not even found in Hubei Province (of which Wuhan is the capital city) but rather at least 900 kms. away in either Yunnan or Zhejiang Province. Nor are horseshoe bats sold at the Wuhan “wet market.” This means that for the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the P-2 Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention to have been experimenting with the coronaviruses of such bats, someone would have had to collect those bats and bring them to Wuhan.
Although hard to corroborate, there are reports that the Chinese Institute of Military Medicine, Nanjing Command uploaded the bat SARS-like coronavirus genomic sequence, obtained from bats in Zhejiang Province, to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), U.S. National Library of Medicine sometime in 2018. A June 2014 paper published at the NCBI website entitled “Identification of diverse alphacoronaviruses and genomic characterization of a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome-like coronavirus from bats in China” reported four years earlier that the genomic sequencing of a novel coronavirus collected from bats in Yunnan Province, China showed it to be a “recombinant from certain bat SARS-like CoVs circulating in Yunnan Province.”
China not only did not inform the rest of the world that the virus was spreading human-to-human, but instead used the all-too-willing WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to propagate the lie via Twitter on 14 January 2020 that “the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.” The resulting delay proved deadly to hundreds of thousands, perhaps eventually even millions, of people who would contract and die of this novel coronavirus.
The final chapter in this 2019-nCoV saga is yet to be written. Full knowledge of exactly where and how this coronavirus came to be awaits further research but, given the CCP’s deliberate concealment and disinformation operations, may never be completely explained. Still, we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that 2019-nCoV came out of China. We know that had Chinese authorities responded to what it knew was a dangerous outbreak of a novel coronavirus weeks or even months sooner, the heavy toll of illness and death worldwide could have been far less. It was the Communist Party cover-up that created conditions for a pandemic. The delay also allowed Beijing to buy up supplies of medical protective gear around the world, even as it was still denying the reality of the virus. As Giulio Meotti noted in a hard-hitting 28 March 2020 piece at the Gatestone Institute, China’s ruling elite “seemed obsessed only with the sustainability of their totalitarian regime.” He writes also that “The Chinese government’s complicity in the pandemic is now an opportunity for the West to reevaluate its ties to Beijing.” Exactly so.
To bring us back to Steve Coughlin’s paper cited at the beginning of this report, we must understand that China is at war with the United States and fully intends to take advantage of our failure to recognize or respond appropriately to the CCP’s “hostilities waged at the political warfare level.” Because whether or not Beijing deliberately released the bioweapon coronavirus it created, its malign behavior once the pandemic was unleashed should leave us in no doubt about its true intentions. Coughlin recommends formation of a COVID-19 Red Team to consider America’s strategic vulnerability to the full span of China’s “Unrestricted Warfare.” In a way, and especially if the virus did get out by accident, we have been given an unanticipated warning about the true hegemonic ambitions of this Chinese regime. Michael Pillsbury wrote about the uniquely Chinese concept of shi in his brilliant book, “The Hundred-Year Marathon.” Although impossible to translate exactly, as Pillsbury explains it, shi has to with properly understanding and seizing strategic advantage from the flow of events, especially in warfare. Key to achieving success in shaping outcomes to one’s own advantage in the almost mystical world of shi is recognizing the enemy’s vulnerability without letting him know that his weakness has been found out. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the West now has the opportunity to see exactly how the Chinese Communist leadership thinks and behaves—perhaps before Beijing was ready for that to happen.
That revelation must not go to waste. A Red Team of top China experts like Steve Bannon, Gordon Chang, Bill Gertz, Michael Pillsbury, and Robert Spalding plus strategic thinkers like Steve Coughlin, Newt Gingrich, Rich Higgins and others should be assembled by the Trump administration immediately. It should not wait for the pandemic to abate but assemble on an urgent basis and begin to take stock of where we are and where we need to be to confront the number one threat to U.S. national security: Red China.
The views expressed in CCNS member articles are not necessarily the views or positions of the entire CCNS. They are the views of the authors, who are members of the CCNS.