On the outskirts of Mojiang, in the deep mountains of southwest China’s Yunnan province lies a disused mine. Deserted, nondescript, until recently. Now, it has become the center of attention for the whole world! In the spring of 2012, 6 men started working in these copper mines. Unknown to them, the bats populating the mine and the guano that they were shovelling contained the yet to be identified coronavirus. This would later be named RaTG13 - the closest known virus on Earth to the one that causes the wretched Covid-19.
Around two weeks after entering the mines, the workers fell ill with a strange flu like illness. Chinese medical records kept secret for all these years reveal that their symptoms were identical to Covid-19. Three of the six infected miners died within a week. One lingered in hospital for 5 months before finally succumbing to the strange illness - time enough for the bat virus infecting the sick miner to mutate into a coronavirus that was now capable of being passed on to others. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that attack the upper respiratory tract.
Dr Jonathon Latham, a senior virologist and executive director of the New York based Bioscience Resource Projects and molecular biologist Allison Wilson believe that the Coronavirus “almost certainly escaped from the Wuhan lab.” The duo reached this conclusion after an extensive research and have supported their findings with stellar evidence. The 66 page master’s thesis from the Chinese medical doctor who treated the miners became the bedrock of their research. The miners had high fever, a dry cough, sore limbs and headaches - all symptoms now associated with COVID-19. They were treated with steroids, blood thinners and antibiotics - just how COVID-19 patients are being treated worldwide today. Another coincidence? The Chinese doctor treating the miners had sent the tissue samples to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for testing!
Leading scientists from around the world (sans China, of course!) have called their research the best sourced explanation yet of the origins of the SARSCoV2. The virus which was once inside the miners – “evolved into SARS COV-2 - an unusually pathogenic coronavirus highly adapted to humans” and the samples “somehow” escaped from the lab in Wuhan - launching a chain of events that morphed into the current coronavirus pandemic.
It is now becoming increasingly clear that humans were in fact affected with this virus beginning with the lab in Wuhan. A previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report has revealed that three Wuhan Institute of Virology’s researchers became ill in autumn of 2019 and sought local hospital care. The symptoms were consistent with that of COVID-19.
The Biden administration has recommended to the WHO that it leads a thorough and a fair investigation into the possibility of a lab leak. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus shares the same views as the Biden administration and has offered to deploy specialists to probe the cause and the birth of this virus.
With the loss of 3.5 million innocent civilians globally, a free and a fair investigation ought to take place! However, diplomatic support is thin and few governments around the world are eager to push for a probe that China could easily veto. Beijing seems to be in no mood to entertain the possibility of such an investigation. It has vociferously denied that the SARS-Cov-2 came from one of its labs or infected any staff working there. In fact, it wants the WHO to investigate whether the pandemic began outside the Chinese borders! A written statement released by China’s foreign ministry said that, “The U.S. keeps concocting inconsistent claims and clamouring to investigate labs in Wuhan. This fully shows that some people in the U.S. don’t care about facts and truth.”
Unless there is an absolute compulsion, China will not allow an independent investigation into the origins of the virus. The independent efforts so far have been obstructed by the Chinese authorities. They have set up a checkpoint on the route leading to the mine. They stopped several foreign journalists from going anywhere near the site citing a threat to the journalist’s lives as there were “wild elephants ahead.” A reporter did manage to reach the mine by mountain bike but was later detained and “questioned” for hours by the police who deleted pictures of the mine from his mobile phone. Living under the constant fear of a totalitarian regime the villagers confided to the reporter. The local officials had given them a stern warning - they were not to discuss the mine with the outsiders.
A document that has recently come to light that further strengthens the argument. Chinese scientists and health officials were well aware of this "new era of genetic weapons" that could be "artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus, then weaponised and unleashed!” With the emergence of new, deadly variants of the coronavirus, the presence of HIV and Malaria genomes, Beijing refusing to allow a free and fair investigation within China, and the recent documents in which the PLA officers were in 2015, fantasising about a “bioweapon to collapse the enemy’s medical system” – all these make it pretty likely that COVID-19 could perhaps be a pathogen for military use. The question remains whether itwas released intentionally or accidently.
The French Nobel prize winning scientist Luc Montagnier has come on record to express his opinion that the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from a lab and that it was perhaps a result of an attempt to manufacture a vaccine against AIDS. Professor Montagnier claimed the presence of elements of HIV in the genome of the coronavirus and even elements of the "germ of malaria" are highly suspect.
China has historically been a master at the art of deception. Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military General and strategist says, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” Different cultures have different values. The Marathas, the Sikhs, the Gurkhas, the Pathans for example would much rather die facing the enemy, the Chinese have no qualms in glorifying deception and endorse deception for the sake of the “collective good.”
India, locked between two hostile nuclear countries, needs to understand is that China has neither friends nor foes, she has her own vested interests. Countries need to understand that China, with its absolute disregard for international laws and conventions and its explicit imperialistic ambitions, is a grave threat to the global order. With no regard for human values, China is an untrustworthy, conscienceless, deceitful nation hungry for their share of global hegemony.
An old report, Nuances In Chinese Political Culture, states that the ancient Chinese literature on strategy has emphasised deception more than any other military doctrine. The prevalent payoff? One does not have to use one’s own power! China has been playing these strategic games for the better part of seven decades. India, as its neighbour, has to learn from the past and thwart any attempts by China to lure us into a well laid out trap.
China has always had an unapologetic and an immoral realpolitik. As Indians, let’s remember the naivety of the Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai. Mao said, “We are not on the alert against each other.” And THEN they attacked! They continue to oppose our Nuclear Suppliers’ Group membership. The recent deceitful backstabbing in the Galwan valley. China has a history of not keeping its word and continues to aid, abet and fund rogue nations like North Korea and Pakistan. As an International Relations expert, it would come as no surprise if the virus was in fact manufactured by China for fighting its enemies.
Sartaj Chaudhary is Master of Laws from the prestigious Kent University. His areas of interest are terrorism, regional conflict and international relations. An expert in International Law, he has written extensively about the changing global order and numerous other contemporary issues.