Saturday, April 04, 2020

Shi Zhengli's Student Huang Yan Ling Mysteriously Disappeared


WaPo | The story of how the novel coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China, has produced a nasty propaganda battle between the United States and China. The two sides have traded some of the sharpest charges made between two nations since the Soviet Union in 1985 falsely accused the CIA of manufacturing AIDS.

U.S. intelligence officials don’t think the pandemic was caused by deliberate wrongdoing. The outbreak that has now swept the world instead began with a simpler story, albeit one with tragic consequences: The prime suspect is “natural” transmission from bats to humans, perhaps through unsanitary markets. But scientists don’t rule out that an accident at a research laboratory in Wuhan might have spread a deadly bat virus that had been collected for scientific study.

“Good science, bad safety” is how Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) put this theory in a Feb. 16 tweet. He ranked such a breach (or natural transmission) as more likely than two extreme possibilities: an accidental leak of an “engineered bioweapon” or a “deliberate release.” Cotton’s earlier loose talk about bioweapons set off a furor, back when he first raised it in late January and called the outbreak “worse than Chernobyl.”

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added to the bile last month by describing the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and the “Wuhan virus,” respectively.

China dished wild, irresponsible allegations of its own. On March 12, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao charged in a tweet: “It might be [the] US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” He retweeted an article that claimed, without evidence, that U.S. troops might have spread the virus when they attended the World Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019.

China retreated on March 22, when Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai told “Axios on HBO” that such rumors were “crazy” on both sides. A State Department spokesman said Cui’s comment was “welcome,” and Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged in a March 27 phone call to “focus on cooperative behavior,” a senior administration official told me.