Will Xi Jinping be ousted if Wuhan lab leak is proven? He seeks ‘lovable’ China image with hunt on for origin
President Xi Jinping is looking to smooth China's diplomatic relations by creating a "trustworthy, lovable and respectable” image for the country.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Xi told senior Communist Party leaders Monday, May 31, that the country must “make friends extensively, unite the majority and continuously expand its circle of friends with those who understand and are friendly to China." He added that Beijing needed to “be open and confident, but also modest and humble.” But while Xi may be looking to salvage his regime's reputation, a health chief recently claimed that the Chinese supremo could be overthrown if scientists across the globe could definitively prove that COVID-19 had escaped from a Wuhan lab.
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Rumors have swirled since the beginning of the ongoing health crisis surrounding the origins of the outbreak and whether the pathogen had leaked from the bio-safety level 4 Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Day by day, the lab leak theory is gaining more credibility, and if concrete evidence was ever established, Xi Jinping could face the likelihood of being toppled by world leaders seeking unprecedented reparations, according to a leading World Health Organisation (WHO) adviser.
Jamie Metzl spoke to LBC just days after it emerged that British authorities were looking into the hypothesis. "In China, if it was absolutely proven, I think there is a real chance Xi Jinping could be overthrown," he said. "There would be claims for reparations around the world against China. It would be a massive geopolitical blow to that country. Just think of the anger of everyone around the world who has lost a spouse, a child, parents, would feel. Not just at the original mistake, but the criminal cover-up afterwards," Metzl added.
Meanwhile, British radio presenter Maajid Nawaz said the "consequences are incredibly serious" for the Chinese Communist Party regime should corroborating evidence come to light. "The entire planet for the first time in history has been locked down because of this thing," he added.
Intelligence agencies across the globe started looking into the lab leak claims after US President Joe Biden agreed to a probe into the origin of the virus last week. The move, however, resulted in a sharpening of tensions with Beijing, which has repeatedly denied that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the source of the deadly pandemic.
Chinese officials have likened any probe into the origins of COVID-19 to the "US finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." Prior to Xi Jinping's call for friendship on Monday, Beijing adopted an offensive diplomatic policy despite its deteriorating image amid the global health crisis.
In fact, a recent editorial published by the CCP-run Global Times said the US government was "full of arrogance." Citing reports by the World Health Organization, the article declared that US intelligence agencies did "not have superior research capability than the WHO." Furthermore, the op-ed also accused the US of "playing political games to hijack science" by demanding that the WHO "serve the political interests of the US."
According to The Sun, British authorities are on the hunt for a Chinese woman dubbed "Patient Su" who may have been the first COVID-positive case infected via a potential lab leak. The 61-year-old woman, whose real name is unknown, reportedly fell sick with a mystery condition in November 2019 -- one month before China reported the novel coronavirus outbreak to the WHO. The newspaper reported that UK intelligence officials were recruiting Chinese whistleblowers on the dark web to further investigate the claims.
Mystery behind Wuhan Institute of Virology
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is believed to be the highest security lab of its kind in China and is considered by many to be the actual origin of the pandemic. There are several theories about the lab and its role in the pandemic. According to The Sun, it is headed up by top scientist Dr Shi Zhengli, notoriously dubbed the "Bat Woman."
The newspaper reported how the lab specialized in bat-borne viruses and had been conducting experiments on them since 2015. Those entering or leaving the facility are subjected to airlocks, full bodysuits, and chemical showers due to the lab's biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) accreditation. BSL-4 labs are the only areas where research on incurable diseases is allowed.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported how US intelligence had reason to believe three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill and were hospitalized in November 2019, lending credence to the theory of a lab leak.
Questions were raised after 18 of the world's top scientists challenged the World Health Organization's "superficial" probe that concluded that a lab leak was "extremely unlikely." They demanded a "proper investigation" since there was no evidence to support the Chinese Communist Party's narrative that the pathogen simply leaped from bats onto humans.
Zhengli was recognized by MIT for her work in “gain of function” research, which involves developing vaccines by first manipulating a pathogen to become more dangerous and gain the ability to attack human cells. Zhengli's research was reportedly conducted in a room with only the same level of sanitary and safety measures as a dentist's office in the United States. Speaking to Scientific American, she said that on hearing about the first COVID-19 infections in Wuhan, her first thought was to wonder if her lab was the source of the outbreak.
According to the Washington Examiner, the "closest known genetic cousin" of SARS-Cov-2 is RaTG13, a coronavirus with a "96.1% nucleotide similarity." RaTG13 was reportedly discovered in a remote region more than 1,000 miles away from Wuhan and was brought back to the WIV lab by Zhengli.
Chinese media, which is largely state-controlled, was reportedly discussing improper waste disposal at the WIV and its employees selling lab animals on the black market prior to the outbreak. Furthermore, cell phone use in the facility reportedly stopped for three weeks in October 2019, indicating a work halt, evacuation, or decontamination order, per the New York Post.
While the aforementioned claims are yet to be proven, it is obvious that China has a lot of questions to address. Similarly, the Dr Anthony Fauci-led National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a lot of explaining to do, especially after it emerged that it had poured millions of US taxpayer dollars into coronavirus research in Wuhan, according to Newsweek.