China asks WHO to investigate Fort Detrick, UNC bio labs through diplomatic channel
Envoy writes to Director-General with joint letter by 25 million netizens calling for Fort Detrick probe
Published: Aug 25, 2021 10:37 PM Updated: Aug 26, 2021 09:37 AM
Personnel work inside the bio-level 4 lab research at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. Photo: AFP

Personnel work inside the bio-level 4 lab research at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. Photo: AFP

The Chinese envoy to the UN Office at Geneva has sent a letter to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, reiterating China's consistent position on the COVID-19 origins tracing and requesting a transparent investigation with full access to the labs of Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina (UNC) in the US.

The letter is also attached to a joint letter signed by more than 25 million Chinese netizens to the WHO demanding an investigation into the Fort Detrick lab. 

It is the first time that China formally asked the WHO through diplomatic channels to conduct a probe on virus origins to Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina. 

Chen Xu, Permanent Representative of China to the UN Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland, wrote to Ghebreyesus on Tuesday, emphasizing that the hypothesis of "introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into human population was caused by lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology" is extremely unlikely. 

If some parties are of the view that the "lab leak" hypothesis remains open, it is labs like Fort Detrick and the one at the UNC that should be subject to transparent investigations, Chen said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Fu Cong, director general of the Department of Arms Control of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sorted out several mysteries that the international community is concerned about the two labs, and once again urged the US not to politicize the issue. 

"Scapegoating China cannot whitewash the US. If the US persists in hyping the lab leak theory, then they should set an example and invite the WHO to investigate Fort Detrick (USAMRIID) and the UNC," Fu said. 

Fort Detrick is the center of US bio-military activities, of which the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) is the primary entity, and is known as the center of the US government's darkest experiments. USAMRIID worked with Ralph Baric's team from the UNC and published the outcome of their research in a paper, which shows that as early as 2003, these institutes already had the advanced capabilities to synthesize and modify SARS-related coronaviruses.

The international community has grave concerns on all the bio-military activities of the US, including Fort Detrick and the over 200 bio-medical labs around the world, as they lack transparency, security and justification. 

"Only the US military has built such a large number of bio-medical labs all over the world. What are their purposes? Do they have any hidden agenda?" Fu asked. 

I wonder if the US obsession with Chinese biological labs signifies a change in its position on verification protocol. Is the US government ready to withdraw its opposition to the negotiations of a verification protocol under BWC? The litmus test will come as early as next week when the Meetings of the States Parties to the BWC take place in Geneva, where China will once again call for the restart of negotiations on a verification protocol, Fu said

Fu also pointed out that the US claims that the research by the Wuhan Institute of Virology has led to SARS-CoV-2. As a matter of fact, the US has sponsored and carried out more such research than any other country. In particular, the Baric team of the UNC leads the world in research in this field, and already has advanced capabilities to synthesize and modify coronavirus. A thorough investigation into Dr. Baric's lab will help clarify whether such researches have led to or could lead to SARS-CoV-2.

According to the disclosed information, it's the lab in the UNC and Ralph Baric who led the biological laboratory at the UNC at Chapel Hill that are full of questions and mysteries that owe the world an explanation when coming to the lab leak theory.

If the US persists in hyping up the lab-leak theory, then they should set an example and invite the WHO to investigate the Fort Detrick (USAMRIID) and the UNC, Fu stressed.

The Global Times has also listed six suspicions of mysteries behind the UNC lab, Fort Detrick and the "Coronavirus Hunter" as they owe the world the truth. 

The WHO has not made any comments on the letter as of press time. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, pointed out that the letter shows that the probe on virus origins has been upgraded to a diplomatic issue, as a result of the US' smear campaign against China on the excuse of the pandemic. 

 "It means Chinese foreign affairs officials will actively participate in the activities organized by the WHO to express China's stance and stress its influence in the health sector. Such activities are no longer only about human health, but will be endowed with the significance of international affairs," Li told the Global Times on Wednesday.  

 Chinese scientists, experts and officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention were previously responsible for communicating with the WHO. 

"We expect the WHO to not only play a role in health care and human health, but also a role that can promote cooperation between countries and can resist any forces from trying to distort the organization's functions," Li said.