On Wednesday morning, the State Council in Beijing convened at short notice for a press conference to discuss the “search for the origins of Covid-19”. In China, the question of the origin of the pandemic is extremely sensitive and therefore the demand from the foreign press was correspondingly high. Leading up to the…
On Wednesday morning, the State Council in Beijing convened at short notice for a press conference to discuss the “search for the origins of Covid-19”. In China, the question of the origin of the pandemic is extremely sensitive and therefore the demand from the foreign press was correspondingly high. In the run-up to the event, it was already clear that the government’s message would be choreographed down to the last syllable. And this in a nutshell: there will be no further investigation in China.
Beijing has been under pressure again since last week. The otherwise rather diplomatic WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, known for his affinity with China, rarely had clear words to the People’s Republic: the possibility of a laboratory leak had been “prematurely” ruled out. Instead, Beijing should finally pass on the raw data of the first patients from Wuhan and act more transparently. At the same time, Ghebreyesus proposed a second phase of research, including inspections of animal markets and virus labs in Wuhan – the city where the first cases of the virus were discovered.
So now came the answer from China: They could not accept this plan of origin search, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the national health authorities, said in no uncertain terms. In fact, the government official was outright shocked by the WHO’s proposal, saying it would be “disrespectful to common sense and to science”.
Instead, China is now launching another counter-offensive: it has its own proposal for the second phase of the search for the source of the virus. This should be continued abroad. Where exactly, government officials left open. But an orchestrated campaign by the state media is yielding information. More than five million Chinese have signed a petition started by the ultra-nationalist Global Times calling for a WHO investigation into the US bioweapons lab Fort Detrick. Chinese government officials have been deliberately spreading this hypothesis since last year to divert attention from China as a possible country of origin. Thanks to the extensive censorship apparatus, which does not tolerate free domestic media and forbids foreign publications, such a conspiracy theory is caught, even if it is not even remotely based on any circumstantial evidence: many Chinese are sincerely convinced that the virus came abroad.
Possibly also through the importation of frozen food, as a second theory, also consciously propagated by the government, is: “Frozen food theory” is the name of the hypothesis, which would be mathematically possible, but considered extremely improbable by a serious scientist – including the WHO is being looked at.
China’s stubborn stance in not responding to international pressure also testifies to the newfound confidence of a nation that will not only be the world’s largest economy in a few years’ time, but also clearly no longer take into account the international community’s external perceptions. .
The lack of transparency among the Chinese is causing discontent, especially in the West. It wasn’t until more than a year after the pandemic broke out that Beijing allowed a WHO team into the country to conduct a two-week investigation — under constant government oversight and alone with a Chinese team of scientists. However, the WHO researchers were unable to obtain much of the critical data, including raw data from previous patients from Wuhan. Beijing government officials said Thursday with “patient privacy”. In addition, all the animals and virus samples from the Huanan market, where the first major infection cluster occurred, had already been destroyed by the authorities.