US Fort Detrick biolab becomes hot topic on Chinese social media
Published: Jan 22, 2021 01:54 AM

The photo of Hua Chunying speaking at the regular press conference on January 18. Photo: Weibo

Following China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's recent speech at a regular press conference urging the US to open its Fort Detrick Laboratory to inspectors on Monday, this somewhat mysterious biological lab that handles sensitive disease resources in Maryland has become a hot topic on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo. 

“If the US truly respects facts, then please open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, show more transparency to issues like its 200-plus overseas bio-labs, invite WHO experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States…,” Hua said at the conference. 

Her request was quickly supported by Chinese netizens online with people urging the US to respond. 

"Why don’t they answer any of those questions? Because they can’t even answer any one of them without hiding,” said a netizen on Sina Weibo 

"I dare to ask, but do you dare to answer?” said another.  

Some attentive netizens also noted that the lab has been included in several US films, in which it is depicted as dangerous and harmful. 

"It was mentioned in The Bourne Legacy, wasn’t it? The place where the virus leaked from,” posted a netizen on Weibo. 

"It was known for carrying out fatal biological research and inventions, Prototype and Outbreak all portray the place like this,” said another. 

As a research lab under the US Army, Fort Detrick was once the center of the US biological weapons program before 1969. It handles highly dangerous diseases such as Ebola and anthrax. It was shut down after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a cease and desist order to the organization in July 2019. 

Besides Hua’s speech on Monday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has spoken about the biological center on eight occasions, asking questions such as “When will the US invite experts of the WHO or other international institutions to investigate the origin of COVID-19 in the US?” and “What is the true reason behind the shutdown of the Fort Detrick biolab by the US government?” to urge the US government to provide more transparency about the lab.