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Are China and the US really enemies?

Dec 01, 2021

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00:46 AM

If so, why is US collaborating in developing Chinese biological weapons?

Are China and the US really enemies?

By Francisco Gil-White

This article and video interview originally appeared on Israel News Talk Radio (INTR) and is reprinted here with permission.

The coronavirus SARS2 (or SARS-CoV-2), assisted by its spike protein, produces the disease called COVID-19. It is descended, they tell us, from a bat coronavirus. And according to the lab-leak hypothesis (in its most famous version), SARS2 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (China), located just a few kilometers from where the first cases of COVID were registered.

What goes on in that lab?

They apply gain of function (or GOF) to SARS viruses from bats. This work, according to the US government’s own published definition of GOF, “improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease” to humans.

You read correctly.

After Nicholas Wade published his analysis of the evidence in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (may 2021), as I explained before, nobody now makes fun of the lab leak hypothesis. Motivated by it, a giant parade of investigators has unearthed a multitude of facts.

But one anomalous fact has not received the attention it deserves: GOF research on SARS viruses in the Wuhan lab has been carried out with financing and scientific collaboration from the US government.

That’s right.

And this forces on us the question: What is the true relationship between the power elites in China and the United States?

 

The anomaly

The crux of the matter was communicated by a fairly livid Senator Rand Paul in a Senate hearing:

“Viruses that in nature only infect animals were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans. (…) Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist from Rutgers, described this research in Wuhan as:

‘The Wuhan lab used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses able to infect human cells … This is high risk research that creates new potential pandemic pathogens—potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in the lab, not in nature.’ ”

What is the anomaly? That they should be doing gain of function on viruses in the Wuhan lab? No, that was to be expected. Because “the WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology],” according to a publicly available document from the US State Department, “has engaged in classified research … on behalf of the Chinese military,” and the Chinese military, as the same document (unnecessarily) adds, have been developing biological weapons.

No, the anomaly is this: in order to give SARS-type viruses augmented functions, “the Wuhan lab used NIH funding,” which is to say, from the National Institutes of Health—meaning (in other words) from the US government.

The NIH are totally and intimately involved.

The Washington Post mentions (entirely in passing) that “The Wuhan lab … has strong ties to the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch.” This Galveston lab, focused on biological warfare, is a creature of the NIH—which is to say, of the US government.

This is edge-of-your-seat political high drama. For Rand Paul’s declarations—stated, for the historical record, in the US Senate—were the preamble to a very public and official interrogation that Senator Paul directed at Anthony Fauci, the bureaucrat responsible for the US response to the COVID pandemic.

Why Fauci? Because Fauci is also the bureaucrat responsible for approving NIH funds to give bat SARS viruses gain of function in the Wuhan lab.

That’s right.

Paul wants to know: Why in the world is the US government helping the Chinese augment the functions of dangerous viruses? Weren’t the US and China supposed to be enemies?

 

But isn’t this medical research?

Fauci and his colleagues at the NIH defend themselves by claiming that there is nothing untoward here as this is not military but public health research. As his government officially explains, it seeks to

“define the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, thereby enabling assessment of the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents, informing public health and preparedness efforts, and furthering medical countermeasure development.”

That sounds good. But Rand Paul cited molecular biologist Richard Ebright saying:

“The Wuhan lab used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses able to infect human cells … This is high risk research that creates new potential pandemic pathogens—potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in the lab …” (emphasis mine)

One is entitled to ask: How does one contribute to public health by inventing in the lab novel chimeric viruses that may cause pandemics? Wouldn’t that be the definition of harming public health? No, they tell us:

Dr. Thomas Briese, [from] Columbia University, … described GOF research done in the laboratory as being a ‘proactive’ approach to understand what will eventually happen in nature.”

In other words, a virus is given gain of function—made more virulent and lethal—in order to get ahead of its future evolution and thus to be ready when the virus, naturally, in the environment, evolves the design that has already been produced (and understood) in the lab.

Does that make sense?

In principle, yes. To give a virus augmented functions on the margin of its ‘wild design’ (the design it has before being manipulated in the lab) can be useful to investigate its possible naturally evolved future designs.

But Rand Paul mentioned the creation of chimeric viruses. A chimeric virus is “a new hybrid microorganism created by joining nucleic acid fragments from two or more different microorganisms.” This is no longer on the margin of the wild design—it represents a jump in design space, and in lethality.

Is this useful for medical purposes? Can a chimera also arise naturally?

In principle, yes, it can. According to evolutionary biologist Alexandre Hassanin, viruses from different species on occasion can exchange genetic material. But “for recombination to occur, the two divergent viruses must have infected the same organism simultaneously” (my emphasis). For this reason, it is considerably less probable that the specific recombination engineered in the lab to create a chimeric virus will happen naturally.

Lab chimeras, therefore, are less useful to medical research, and more useful, according to MIT virologists, for “bioweapons development.” This is no doubt why the Soviets, in their “mammoth biological weapons program,” had “two chimera projects,” according to the testimony of Ken Alibek (Kanatjan Alibekov), the Soviet deserter who once served as deputy director for the Soviet bioweapons program.

But all GOF research—not just the creation of chimeric viruses—is ‘dual-use technology,’ with civilian and also military applications. So…

 

Is this military research?

Any pathogen with augmented functions—chimera or no—can be employed in deliberate attacks against human populations. So it would be disingenuous to insist too strongly that GOF research funded by the NIH is exclusively medical research.

After all, NIH’s Galveston National Laboratory is centered on biological warfare. And the US military has a biological weapons program.

That US program is alarming. When called to testify before the US Congress in 1975-77, the military confessed they had conducted hundreds of secret tests using US civilians as unsuspecting guinea pigs, releasing lab pathogens over dozens of cities—tens of millions of people—.

 

That’s right.

Those secret experiments were done as part of an offensive biowarfare program started in 1949 that President Richard Nixon was supposed to have abolished in 1969, after which, Nixon promised, only defensive research would be done. But there are two problems with this.

First, as the military have themselves stated, there is just no way to separate offensive and defensive biowarfare research.[1] Second, the secret tests on civilians in fact continued, as was later documented.[2] In that context, one may reasonably suspect that some offensive biowarfare research may have been disguised as medical research.

Consider one interesting example: the scientific paper—authored with Zhengli-Li Shi from the Wuhan Institute of Virology—that reported the creation of a chimeric SARS virus with spike protein. This was done not only with NIH funds, but with the assistance of USAMRIID (United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases).

What is USAMRIID? It is the organ that, when Nixon pretended to abolish the biowarfare program, rehired all the personnel that had been working on the development of biological weapons.[3]

 

This research is just too dangerous

Even suppressing all of the military context to grant Anthony Fauci—with total charity—his justification for the supreme and exclusive medical utility of all this research, you’d have to question whether the risks don’t outweigh the benefits. For a lab-augmented virus, if it escapes, can cause the pandemic its creation was supposed to prevent.

And that’s no minor danger because the labs are not really that secure. Not even the (presumably disciplined) military labs. Not even USAMRIID.

In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ordered the suspension of activities at USAMRIID because they found that scientists there were not being sufficiently careful. They claimed that nothing had escaped, but they didn’t give any further information for “ ‘national security reasons.’ ”

In other cases escapes have been documented. “The smallpox virus”—which can reach 30% mortality rates and has caused, historically, millions of human deaths—“escaped three times from labs in England,” with some casualties, “in the 1960’s and 1970’s,” according to Nicholas Wade.

Far from being an isolated case,

“Dangerous viruses have leaked out of labs almost every year since. Coming to more recent times, the SARS1 virus has proved a true escape artist, leaking from laboratories in Singapore, Taiwan, and no less than four times from the Chinese National Institute of Virology in Beijing [China].”

And the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic has not improved lab security. Just a few days ago, according to Newsweek,

“a cleaning worker found small glass containers with labels that read ‘smallpox’ … in a freezer in a building that is owned by the Merck pharmaceutical company.”

The CDC are investigating the case, but they no longer inspire much confidence.

In 2014, 75 scientists from the CDC were accidentally exposed to anthrax. A few weeks later, employees of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found 16 vials full of smallpox that had been stored, as at Merck, without any special precautions and then forgotten.

 

No matter the risks, collaborate with China!

It was precisely due to the CDC and FDA frights that gain of function studies were forbidden in the year 2014, for there was concern that augmented viruses might also escape. The Scientist reported that

“the government … is pausing funding for gain-of-function [GOF] research projects ‘that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility …’ ”

It is therefore amazing that, despite the suspension of funding in 2014, Anthony Fauci approved continuation of the GOF research study mentioned earlier (published in 2015), whose first author is Vineet D. Menachery from Galveston National Laboratory. That study, to create a chimeric SARS virus with spike protein, was done in collaboration with Zhengli-Li Shi from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, considered by many as the most probable source of the SARS2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Why did creating chimeric SARS viruses with spike protein have such priority—so high that any contrary directive would be disregarded? This question demands an answer.

But, for the moment, we are occupied with this other question: Why was such a virus created in collaboration with a lab where, according to the State Department (see above), the Chinese military are developing biological weapons?

Weren’t China and the US supposed to be enemies?

This anomaly glares at us all the more in the context of the media portrayal.

 

The media portrayal: total military confrontation

Almost everything we believe about the world, and especially our notions of international relations, come to us through the media, for we have direct access to almost nothing. It follows, therefore, that what we carry around in our heads—the dominant narrative—is a model of the world born in the media performance of our public discourse.

To find this narrative, simply consult any Western mass-media vehicle (some less pro-US, others more anti-Chinese); or else any Chinese mass-media vehicle (some more anti-US, others less pro-Chinese); or else dig in the academic publications; or listen to the official declarations of either government. Because, notwithstanding a variety of biases and ostensible ideological differences, the representation they all make of the relationship itself is perfectly unanimous: it is straining worse than a violin string.

Here’s some recent evidence.

In the month of October 2021 Newsweek reported on two Chinese tests of hypersonic nuclear missiles. This technology “involves propelling weapons into low-Earth orbit, guiding them along an unpredictable trajectory, before striking their intended targets.” The missile goes around the Earth before impact. According to Newsweek, one stupefied US government expert said the Chinese achievement seemed to “ ‘defy the laws of physics.’ ”

That was October. In early November the Washington Post headline read: “China accelerates nuclear weapons expansion.”

Why the hurry? Because, writes the Post, it has been “a tense year” for China-US relations. And not just this year. Under former president Donald Trump, we learn, “Chinese and U.S. officials held unusual conversations aimed at avoiding bloodshed.”

Yikes.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to that story, picked up the telephone—entirely on his own, without asking permission—to tell the Chinese that Trump did not mean to attack their country. But the Chinese were so shaken that, we are told, they now want “at least 1,000 warheads by 2030,” according to a military report that the Pentagon just turned in to Congress.

Beijing’s reply thundered the following day in the Newsweek headline: “China Says U.S. Bringing World Closer to Nuclear War After U.S. Military Report.

Towards the middle of the month a parade of high military officials and academic experts appeared in the pages of the Financial Review (Australia) to express variegated opinions on Chinese intentions but all of them agreed on this: this is a supremely dangerous moment.

 

The next day, General John Hyten, US Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, according to the headlines in FOX News and the New York Post, that China could soon launch a surprise nuclear attack.

Beijing’s answer: “China Accuses U.S. of Fueling Nuclear War ‘Panic’ After Official Warns of Attack,” reads the Newsweek headline (21 November), which relays what Global Times, an official mouthpiece of the Chinese government, had said.

The editorial board at Global Times stated:

“There is a serious possibility of a war across the Taiwan Straits, and the US has been implying a possible military intervention from time to time. Several recent literary deductions on the China-US conflict have predicted that the US would be the first to launch a nuclear attack on China.

The picture is clear: China is inhabiting the part that once belonged to the Soviet Union in the narrative playing out on the world geopolitical stage: it is the great totalitarian rival of the United States: the existential enemy with whom, they tell us, a nuclear war of mutual annihilation might detonate. This is expressed by the Big Media, the academics, and both governments.

 

But this is impossible

If we accept this model of total confrontation between the governments of the US and China, then how can we explain that the US has been assisting the development of Chinese biological weapons, which are—like the nuclear variety—of mass destruction? This is a perfect anomaly.

Quite frankly, this is impossible.

When, under your model of the Universe, a well-documented fact is impossible, the problem is with your model. Because the Universe can’t be wrong—it’s just the Universe; only our theories can be wrong.

A fact that under a given hypothesis is impossible I call a dramatic fact. It is supremely useful, as it allows us to discard that hypothesis. And that’s good because progress in science requires discarding erroneous hypotheses.

After spotting a dramatic fact, therefore, you’ll need a new model. The alternative model, in this case, needs to make sense, simultaneously, of what has been documented:

  1. that all of our sources of authority represent the US and China as enemies on the edge of a great nuclear war; and
  2. that the US has been assisting the Chinese development of biological weapons of mass destruction.

The new model must tell us what the true relationship between the governments of the US and China might be, and also what might be the structure of the Big Media.

In my next article, I will propose such a model.

 

NOTES:

[1] Leonard Cole explains that “The army’s official history of history of Fort Detrick [1968],” where the US government created a sprawling complex for biowarfare research, “indicated that ‘research and development in the offensive aspects of BW [biological warfare] proceeded hand in hand with defensive developments for, in truth, the two are almost inseparable.’ The army must wish that this clause had never been printed, since the government’s position now is that America is engaged only in defensive research.”

Cole, L. A. (1990). Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas. United Kingdom: Rowman & Littlefield. (p.33)

[2] Consult the section subtitled: ‘The US ban on bioweapons research: Was it real?’ in the following piece:

“LAB LEAK, Part 2: COVID, Biological Weapons, China, and the United States; Israel News Talk Radio; 18 October 2021; by Francisco Gil-White
https://israelnewstalkradio.com/lab-leak-part-2-covid-biological-weapons-china-and-the-united-states/

[3] The scientific paper cited in the text, where it reports on the origin of its materials, contains the following sentence:

“Wild-type SARS-CoV (Urbani), mouse-adapted SARS-CoV (MA15) and chimeric SARS-like CoVs were cultured on Vero E6 cells (obtained from United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases)”

USAMRIID, in Fort Detrick (Maryland), is a maximum security (BSL-4) military lab. Who works there? According to Wikipedia, the same scientists who were developing bioweapons in the US Army BWL (Biological Weapons Laboratories). Because, when the BWL were dissolved in 1969, USAMRIID rehired them.

Dr. Leonard Cole (Rutgers New Jersey Medical School), an expert in this history, explains that

“In 1969, when President Nixon announced the end of the United States’ biological warfare program, a large facility was already under construction at [Fort] Detrick to house medical research associated with biological warfare. The sprawling structure was completed in 1971 and became the home of the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). It has become the principal location on the base for continued biological warfare research.” (p.35)

Cole, L. A. (1990). Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas. United Kingdom: Rowman & Littlefield.

Francisco Gil-White has a Masters in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a PhD in biological and cultural anthropology from UCLA. His PhD thesis work was in rural Western Mongolia, where he did 14 months of fieldwork studying the mutual ethnic perceptions of neighboring Torguud Mongol and Kazakh nomadic herders. Until June 2006, he was Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Today he teaches at ITAM, in Mexico City. His research is broadly concerned with the evolution of the proximate mechanisms responsible for social learning and social perception and cognition. His main interests are the evolution of ethnic processes, with a special focus on racism, and particularly anti-Semitism; prestige processes; the evolution of language; the structure of narrative memory; the structure and interaction of media and political processes; the laws of history; Western geopolitics; and the political history of the West.  You can visit his website at:  HIRHome.com

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