February 26, 2020, BY Prof. Anthony Hall The Wuhan Coronavirus Epidemic

Part 1: The Wuhan Coronavirus Epidemic and Conspiracy Theories

The Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic of 2020 is causing the once-firm ground beneath many established institutions to shake uncontrollably. One of those institutions, the Chinese communist government, is encountering its Chernobyl moment.

There are many consequences and implications of the epidemic that are already extending beyond China to the whole world. The epidemic is having significant implications for, for instance, the state of the Chinese and global economy, the future of the transportation industry, the future of tourism, the conditions of international relations, the state of censorship, the interaction between academic and military research, as well as the ongoing breakdown of trust in government. This list is far from complete.

The remainder of this 6 part essay highlights the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for communicative interactions, especially in the public sphere. The issues to be addressed extend across social media and mainstream media. They touch on public education and different conceptions of the public interest.

The analysis of the breakdown in public health raises questions about law enforcement. It raises related questions about the governance of professional associations, academic institutions as well as the public and private agencies with significant responsibilities in the arenas of certification and scientific publication.
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One of the primary areas of professional contention arising from the COVID-19 crisis involves the close connections between biological research aimed at finding preventions and cures for diseases and research aimed at creating biological weapons. Biological weapons can be designed with the goal of bringing about indiscriminate mass murder. They can also be used to bring about the targeted murder of specific human populations sharing common genetic attributes.

Gradually a portion of the public is becoming aware that a conflict of interests exists between the military and public health applications of the microbiology field within the so-called life sciences. How many practitioners of the so-called life sciences are really devoting themselves to the death sciences? The public has reason to question, for instance, the procedures involved in the production of vaccines by an industry with one foot in the health care field and another foot in military research.

Why should the public not fear that some practitioners in the field of microbiology might confuse their dual responsibilities in projects aimed at both saving and killing people? What is to be said of the development of vaccines, in some cases by the same people involved in genetically engineering the very diseases that vaccines are meant to protect against?

Similarly, why should the public trust that we are being well served by systems of research primarily driven by the quest for lucrative patents to enrich their owners? Why shouldn’t the public suspect that we are being used as guinea pigs in experiments on human beings that continue to be perpetuated in the course of applied medical research regardless of the prohibitions that have been enacted? Did the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic begin as an experiment on human subjects that got out of control?

How many times can the public trust be betrayed before the habit ceases of giving possible professional offenders, including those in white lab coats, the benefit of the doubt? Where does the protection of the public interest and the common good fit into this complex and internally contradictory picture?

Where is there genuine accountability to a public required to support with our tax dollars scientific research that can result in both good and bad outcomes? Why does the financial return on this public investment so often end up in corporate and private hands whereas the liabilities and collateral damages accrued are expected to be absorbed by the public?

The fact that ground zero of the Novel Coronavirus is Wuhan, home of China’s newest and most sophisticated microbiology laboratory, naturally casts a shadow of doubt over narratives minimizing the role of human agency in creating the new strain of Coronavirus. Wuhan’s important role as a major Chinese research center, much of it secret and covert, has to be taken into account. Moreover, Wuhan just happens also to be the medical headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army.

The possible bioweapon was originally labeled 2019-nCoV. Then the UN’s World Health Organization changed the formal name to COVID-19. Is the World Health Organization a PR adjunct of Big Pharma? How tight is the relationship between the WHO and the Chinese Communist Party?

In an era of proliferating genetic engineering, how are governments and their Big Pharma partners dividing up the field of microbiology? How are they handling the divide between initiatives done in the name of public health and initiatives done to produce biological weapons for national governments including those of the United States, China, and Israel? How are the partners handling the apportionment of new wealth derived from securing patents?

These issues are finding expressions in the many legitimate questions that are coming to light in the course of the Novel Coronavirus emergency. Some of these questions arise because of a history of largely unexplained relations between the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory and the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada (NML). It has been well reported that both institutions share the same top-level 4 certification assigned to containment facilities in research labs where staff can pursue high-level studies of the most dangerous pathogens known to humankind.

Built with French assistance between 2015 and 2017, the Wuhan facility at ground zero of the current epidemic is one of the premier pathogen research facilities in a country that is thought by some to be developing significant capacities for biological warfare. Similarly, the federal research facility in Winnipeg may well have an attending or indirect role in military research to advance capacities for biological warfare in collaboration with Canada’s two main allies, Israel and the United States.

Immunologist and Medical Doctor, Xiangguo Qiu, is the principal professional link at the nexus of relations between the Wuhan and Winnipeg facilities. Until recently Dr. Qiu was the head of the Vaccine Development and Antiviral Therapies Section of the Special Pathogens Programme of the NML. The NML in Winnipeg is administered by Canada’s federal Public Health Agency.
Qiu Xiangguo 6fa18

*(Qiu Xiangguo was one of the first scientists to develop a treatment for Ebola. Credit: Handout)

Dr. Qiu received her medical degree in China. In 1996 she moved from the Taijin area of China to the United States while already being subsidized as participant in China’s Thousand Talents Program. She soon moved to Canada from the US continuing her graduate work at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Qiu continued her professional life in both Canada and China, apparently visiting the Wuhan Biosafety Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Science at least five times, each for two-week periods in 2017 and 2018. In each case an undisclosed Chinese entity paid her travel expenses.

After 2006 Dr. Qiu’s research specialty became the study of a variety of Ebola wild strains. The most virulent of these strains has an 80% death rate for those that contract the virus. An outbreak of Ebola from 2013 to 2016 took the lives of over 11,000 people in West Africa. Along with Dr. Gary Kobinger, Dr. Qui was said to be instrumental in developing the ZMapp treatment for Ebola using a cocktail of antibodies. In 2018 the duo received an Innovation Award from the Governor General of Canada for developing treatments for those infected with Ebola virus.

In March of 2019, Dr. Qiu and her research team sent off to China via Air Canada a package of deadly virus strains said to include Ebola and Nipah organisms. The shipment is said to have triggered an unexplained negative response from officials in China. The flagged problem probably involved an alleged failure to follow proper procedures in the transfer of materials that can be used for the manufacturing of bioweapons as well as in the making of vaccines to prevent the spread of infection.

The episode led to the decision of Canada’s Public Health Agency to call in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to investigate. This investigation was directed at Dr. Qiu and her husband, Cheng Keding, who is also an acknowledged expert in the field of virology.
Xiangguo Qiu Cheng Keding 5b4e9

*(Chinese bacterial thief Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Chen Keding.)

As a result of these developments an episode occurred that was reported on July 14 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC. In her CBC article, Karen Pauls reported,

A researcher with ties to China was recently escorted out of the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg amid an RCMP investigation into what’s being described as a possible “policy breach.” Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, her husband Keding Cheng and an unknown number of her students from China were removed from Canada’s only level-4 lab on July 5.

The CBC acted pretty much as a stenographer of official sources whose clear mission was to keep a lid on the potentially explosive story. The story would become even more explosive with the inception in December of 2019 of the Coronavirus crisis in China. Rather than trying to go around the official platitudes by engaging in some independent sleuthing known as investigative journalism, CBC did what most mainstream venues do these days. CBC acted as a xerox machine to relay the tepid pronouncements of a timid and ill-guided bureaucracy.

Paul cited, for instance, an official in Canada’s Public Health Agency referring to the removal of Dr. Qiu, her husband and her research team as an “administrative matter” that will be “resolved expeditiously.” Several officials including a RCMP spokesman, indicated, “There is no threat to public safety at this time.”

A federal media relations officer continued the effort of deflection by trying to make a really unusual, complex and many-faceted story seem unremarkable. The commentator affirmed, “the work of the NML continues in support of the health and safety of all Canadians.” Leah West, an International Affairs Professor at Carlton University of Ottawa, went as far as venturing that “national security” issues might be involved. This statement calls for explanations that Canadian reporters have so far not seriously attempted.

Lt. Colonel Dr. Dany Shoham is one of the most attentive figures outside Canada who responded especially quickly and skeptically to the perplexing questions raised by Dr. Qiu’s activities. Dr. Shoham is a reserve member of the IDF. He continues his military responsibilities in the fields of biological and chemical warfare as a senior researcher in the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel.
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*(Dr. Dany Shoham. Credit: Wiki/ Shalom magazine.)

In 2014 Dr. Shoham was a visiting scholar at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA). There he collaborated professionally with the IDSA’s Deputy Director, Brigadier Rumel Dahiya. Dr. Shoham devoted much of his time in India to studying what he refers to as China’s Biological Warfare Programme.

Dr. Shoham published his findings in 2015 in an “integrative study” where he commented at significant length on the makeup and structure of China’s secretive military R and D initiatives in the alleged development of bioweapons. He maintains that these secretive military operations have been blended into the operations of “ostensibly civilian facilities” where public health initiatives in disease prevention and treatment are often highlighted

Dr. Shoham notes that the government of China became a signatory in 1984 to UN’s Biological Weapons Convention of 1972. The Israeli academic alleges, however, that China, a target of US biological war in the Korean War in the early 1950s, opted to secretly retain some continuing capacities in this military field.

Dr. Shoham has cast himself as an insistent whistle blower calling attention to the provocative circumstances attending the shipment from Canada to China of virulent pathogens. Dr. Shoham indicated that Dr. Qiu’s research has been conducted not only on behalf of the governments of Canada and China. Dr. Qui has also collaborated with three scientists from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland. Much of her success, however, is connected to her obtaining many grants from China, all on the “national level.”

In the July-December 2019 issue of the IDSA Journal, Dr. Shoman explained.

But the collateral Chinese plexus cannot be ignored. Married to a Chinese scientist – Dr. Keding Cheng, also affiliated with the NML (specifically the “Science and Technology Core”), and primarily a bacteriologist who shifted to virology – Dr. Qiu frequently visited and maintained tight bonds with China, generally speaking, and many Chinese students joined her works in the NML during the recent decade, coming from a notable range of Chinese scientific facilities. Nonetheless, among the latter there are four facilities that have been regarded to possess parts of the Chinese biological weapons alignment, namely

·Institute of Military Veterinary, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Changchun.
·Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chengdu Military Region.
·Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hubei.
·Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.

All of the four mentioned facilities collaborated with Dr. Qiu within the context of Ebola virus, yet the Institute of Military Veterinary joined a study on the Rift Valley fever virus, while the Institute of Microbiology joined a study on Marburg virus too. Noticeably, the drug used in the latter study – Favipiravir – has been earlier tested successfully by the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences, with the designation JK-05 (originally a Japanese patent registered in China already in 2006), against Ebola and additional viruses.

However, the studies by Dr. Qiu are considerably more advanced and fruitful, in certain aspects. They are apparently vital for the Chinese biological weapons developing, in case Ebola, Nipah, Marburg or Rift Valley fever viruses are included therein, which is a plausible postulation; let alone the wild type viruses in themselves. And it is of note that only Nipah virus is naturally found in China or neighboring countries. Collectively, then, the interface between Dr. Qiu and China has a priori been highly suspicious. On top of it, the shipment of the two viruses from NML to China apparently generated an alarm, beyond its seeming inappropriateness. And an unavoidable question is whether previous shipments to China of other viruses or other essential preparations, took place from 2006 to 2018, one way or another.

It has not gone unnoticed that this episode at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg may be intertwined with the mounting diplomatic tension between the governments of Canada and China. The controversy is unfolding in a way that adds new uncertainty to the controversy instigated in December of 2018 with the Canadian government’s decision to arrest, detain and put on trial the Huawei cell phone company’s executive, Meng Wanzhou. Many have questioned the dubious nature of the decision to arrest the Huawei official in Vancouver for allegedly violating US law pertaining to sanctions against Iran.

The future role of the Huawei system for 5G wireless communications, a frightening and largely untested public health hazard in its own right, has emerged as a core issue in the conflict between the United States and China. To conceive of this conflict as a trade war alone is to underestimate the full scope of the antagonisms. These antagonisms over the future of wireless communications extend, for instance, far into the shape and form of future international espionage. Since the era began nearly 20 years ago of the 9/11 psychological operation, much international espionage has taken place by means of backdoor spying on digital flows of information. Israel has become especially closely identified with this type of digital spying throughout the Internet.

The Chinese strategy for achieving traction in this competitive milieu is to apply breakthroughs in digital computation and communications. The strategy is to integrate innovations in Artificial Intelligence, AI, with cutting edge developments in biotechnology. This methodology is understood by some Chinese students of geopolitics as integral to the military process of “preparing a new domain for warfare.”

In this digital and biological theatre of rivalry, the new gene splicing capacities of CRISPR technology constitute a formidable new tool for major and irreversible interventions into life’s most fundamental cycles of death and renewal. The ability to alter the genetic makeup of organisms, including human organisms, is thereby becoming a key facet in establishing new domains for warfare, including various forms of hybrid warfare.

More elements in China’s geopolitical strategy have come to light as the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic gathers momentum especially in the ground zero region. The decision of Canadian federal officials, including federal police, to intervene by removing Dr. Qiu and her research team from the NML was to some extent mirrored in the United States.

In January of 2020 police in the United States arrested Prof. Charles Lieber, Chairman of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department. Dr. Lieber has been placed on indefinite administrative leave and charged under US criminal law with lying to officials in the Defense Department and in the National Institutes of Health. These agencies funded Dr. Lieber’s research at Harvard in the field of nanoscience to the tune of $15,000,000 in grants.
Charles Lieber 5d935

*(Prof. Charles Lieber, former Chairman of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department.)

Dr. Lieber is alleged to have misled federal officials and Harvard officials about the extent of his contractual relations with several Chinese entities including, most prominently, the Wuhan Technological University. Among the allegations pointed his way are those that accuse Dr. Lieber of failing to reveal his participation in China’s controversial Thousand Talents program.

According to the FBI, “China’s talent recruitment plans, such as the Thousand Talents Program, offer competitive salaries, state-of-the-art research facilities, and honorific titles, luring both Chinese overseas talent and foreign experts alike to bring their knowledge and experience to China, even if that means stealing proprietary information or violating export controls to do so.” The Chinese-Canadian researcher, Dr. Qiu, is reported to be, like Harvard’s Dr. Lieber, a participant in China’s Thousand Talents program.

In its report on the case, Bloomberg News described the work at Dr. Lieber’s Harvard lab as being dependent on “a pipeline of China’s brightest Ph.D. students and postdocs, often more than a dozen at a time, to produce prize-winning research.”

The North American research activities of Dr. Lieber and Dr. Qui seem to have been similarly dependent on China’s financial backing, collaboration and constant supply of promising young practitioners of scientific research. Both Dr. Lieber and Dr. Qiu clearly ran into a major sea change in the conditions of their work with major ramifications for the conduct of national security, international relations, law enforcement and academic governance.

No doubt administrators have been sent reeling behind-the-scenes at Harvard University, at the University of Manitoba and at institutions of higher learning throughout the world. These institutions depend heavily on international networks of academic collaboration. Suddenly the viability of many of these academic networks has been called into question though interventions by the criminal justice system in Canada and the United States.

Indeed, the sudden global spotlight on anything that might help shed light on the still-shady background of the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic must be given its due. The startling developments associated with a major plague quite possibly cultivated in stages in both test tubes and animal hosts calls into question many things. It calls for explanations about the role of many corporations, government agencies and philanthropic foundations. The rules seem to be changing fast for entities that regularly sponsor scholarly research even as they participate in the process of applying research findings to technological innovations.

The arrest of Dr. Lieber followed the arrest in mid-December of 20019 of Zaosong Zheng at Logan International Airport in Boston for trying to smuggle to Beijing 21 vials of biological material. The vials were taken from Harvard University’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre where Zaosong Zheng was a visiting graduate student in pathology.

Commenting on his ongoing investigation of the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Benjamin Tolkoff remarked, “Zeng’s theft and attempt to smuggle biological specimens out of the U.S. was not an isolated incident. Rather it appears to have been a coordinated crime, with likely involvement by the Chinese government.”

*Part 3: Ideology and Investigative Journalism
Coronavirus

WRITER
Prof. Anthony Hall

Anthony James Hall has been Editor In Chief of the American Herald Tribune since its inception. Between 1990 and 2018 Dr. Hall was Professor of Globalization Studies and Liberal Education at the University of Lethbridge where he is now Professor Emeritus. The focus of Dr. Hall’s teaching, research, and community service came to highlight the conditions of the colonization of Indigenous peoples in imperial globalization since 1492.

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