America is “conducting biological warfare and bioterrorism using genetic engineering technology,” China’s state-run Global Times newspaper accused on Monday, citing Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Hua reportedly made the comment as part of a larger screed against the United States during her regular press briefing on Monday in response to a question about a report allegedly linking the Chinese military to genetic engineering of coronaviruses.
The Australian reported this weekend that it had obtained a leaked document from China allegedly discussing the genetic engineering of coronaviruses by the nation’s military. The documents were reportedly from 2015. The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman responded to the report by claiming the “leaked” documents were not secret and by insisting that the United States was threatening the world with biological weapons rather than commenting on reports about China.
Citing an alleged former U.S. Air Force colonel, Hua told reporters, “it is the US that is researching the technology of genetic engineering applied to bio-warfare and bio-terrorism.”
“I also want to point out that many countries are gravely concerned about bio-labs built by the U.S. both within its borders and overseas. It is reported that the U.S. has over 200 overseas bio-labs in 25 countries and regions,” Hua claimed. “The sites of where some bio-labs are based have seen outbreaks of large-scale infectious diseases.”
“People are eager to know: Why did the US set up so many bio-labs around the world? What’s it after? How much sensitive biological resources and information did the US acquire from relevant countries?” Hua asked.
The Global Times translated Hua’s remarks more pointedly than those appearing in the official Foreign Ministry transcript, attributing to her the claim that America is “conducting biological warfare and bioterrorism using genetic engineering technology.”
In responding to concerns about genetic experiments with coronaviruses in China, Hua also revived the Communist Party conspiracy theory – which she has spearheaded the promotion of at the Foreign Ministry – that the Chinese coronavirus originated in Fort Detrick, a U.S. Army laboratory in Maryland. Hua suggested in May that the Chinese coronavirus – which first began infecting humans in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 – leaked out of Fort Detrick prior to the first documented cases of the disease and began infecting people in Maryland. Hua claimed that local doctors incorrectly diagnosed those infected with “coronavirus” with “e-cigarette disease.” E-cigarettes, or “vapes,” have been known to cause lung injuries in some users, many of them traced back to poorly made vapes imported from Shenzhen, China.
Hua has never answered several pivotal questions about her theory, the most important among them is how it could be possible that those diagnosed with lung injuries were carrying a highly contagious coronavirus without infecting anyone. Injuries are not transmissible from human to human and no evidence exists that American doctors treated e-cigarette injuries as contagious, meaning they took no precautions in isolating patients. Yet no doctor has ever documented a case of a lung injury patient infecting anyone else.
Experts consider the symptoms of vaping injuries often similar to coronavirus symptoms, particularly coughing and shortness of breath, but many cases more resemble chemical burns than respiratory infections and biological pathogens appear to play no role in these cases.
E-cigarette lung injury cases also occurred throughout the United States in 2019, with no significantly higher rate of diagnoses in Maryland than anywhere else. Hua has not addressed this data in her accusations against Fort Detrick, nor has she addressed the documented link between vaping injuries and products manufactured in Shenzhen.
“What activities are carried out at Fort Detrick and its overseas bio-labs? Are they somehow linked to the US research on ‘next generation bioweapons?’” Hua asked on Monday. “The U.S. owes the international community an honest, transparent and responsible answer to those questions.”
The origin of the Chinese coronavirus and how it began infecting humans is a topic of much scientific speculation internationally. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) sent a team of investigators to Wuhan, China, in early 2021 to test multiple potential origin theories. The team’s final report concluded that the likeliest scenario for infection is that an intermediate species first infected humans with the pathogen after being infected itself through contact with an animal reservoir of the disease. It concluded that it was “highly unlikely” that the virus escaped from a laboratory – despite the presence of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), known to study coronaviruses, in the area – and it did not entertain the possibility of an intentional leak of the disease.
The report notably mentioned that the scientists were unable to find a single animal testing positive for the virus after testing tens of thousands, so if an animal reservoir for the disease exists, it is not in the Wuhan area.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, lamented that the report was “not extensive enough” in analyzing the possibility of a laboratory accident.
“The team also visited several laboratories in Wuhan and considered the possibility that the virus entered the human population as a result of a laboratory incident,” Tedros said. “However, I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough. Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions.”