During a recent segment Tucker Carlson blasted China’s coronavirus response and accused them of lying in order to “hide failure and avoid embarrassment.”
We brought you fresh reporting last night on the question of where the deadly coronavirus pandemic came from. Tonight, we have more. We spent much of the day speaking to highly informed officials in the U.S. Government as well as seasoned specialists on China, and here’s the picture that emerged from those conversations.
First, many in the intelligence world with experience in China suspected right away that the story the Chinese government was telling about this virus was almost certainly a lie.
The first indication of that was the torrent of obvious nonsense coming from official sources in Beijing. Now initially, Chinese sources, you may remember this, claimed the virus had jumped from an obscure scaly animal called a “Pangolin,” which was sold in the Wuhan wet market, but that explanation didn’t make any sense. Wet markets are seafood markets. Pangolins are mammals.
So, for that matter, are bats. So in the face of skepticism at this explanation, the Chinese then blamed Italian armed forces personnel, who it turns out had been near Wuhan a few months before for the military world games – that’s an international sporting event. The Italians must have brought the virus to China, the Chinese said.
When the Italian government complained about that, the Chinese shifted the blame to the U.S. military. The American armed services and western tourists must have infected Wuhan, the Chinese said. Meanwhile, as they were saying this, behind-the-scenes Chinese officials were working frantically to destroy relevant evidence of where it actually came from. Doctors and journalists in Wuhan who raised uncomfortable questions about the virus disappeared. Some of them may have been murdered. At one point in January, scientists in Shanghai succeeded in sequencing the DNA from the virus. The information they gathered from that could’ve been crucial to researchers around the world who were trying to understand the virus and develop vaccines against it. In other words, the rest of us.
But the Chinese government ordered that viral sample destroyed and the lab notes from that shredded. The scientists themselves were disciplined for daring to conduct this research, and their lab was shut down. The Chinese government then quarantined the entire city of Wuhan, up to 5 million people fled. But apparently, relatively few of them were allowed to travel to Beijing, the Chinese capital. Instead, they flew to western cities around the world. Now, to most in the United States, reactions to a crisis like this seem grotesque, really unimaginable. But to mandarin speakers who follow China carefully and have for a long time, these were highly familiar moves.
The first reflex of the Chinese government is always to lie in order to hide failure and avoid embarrassment. In 2003, for example, the Chinese government lied about the initial outbreak of SARS, another Coronavirus. In July 2011, two passenger trains traveling in opposite directions smashed into each other at high speed outside the Chinese city of Wenzhou. The trains collided on a railroad bridge.
Four calls derailed and tumbled to the ground below. Within hours, authorities arrived with backhoes, they pushed the passenger cars into a pit, and began covering them with dirt. By some accounts there were still survivors inside at that time, inside the passenger cars. In their initial statements, Chinese officials claimed that a lightning strike had caused that crash. They later conceded under pressure that it was sloppiness and shoddy construction that were to blame. Chinese media meanwhile were ordered to ignore the crash entirely except for “positive news” or … news issued by authorities.
This was the template for China’s official response to the Wuhan virus. From the early days of the outbreak, Chinese diplomats around the world insisted there was no chance whatsoever the virus had come from a lab. They sometimes insisted this even when no one had asked them, as if they were reading from a script. It soon became very obvious what was going on. English-language academic journals had raised for years questions about the safety standards in Wuhan bio research labs. An article in “Nature” for example from 2017 noted that “Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping from the facility.” Classified State Department cables a year later than voiced the same concerns. Chinese scientists themselves publicly discussed working with extremely dangerous pathogens in Wuhan.