China floats rumor that US is original epicenter of COVID-19, says army lab “dark experiment center”
01/22/2021 // Nolan Barton // Views

China's Central Television Station reported Thursday, Jan. 21, that "something fishy" was going on at the Fort Detrick lab in Frederick, Maryland. The lab is known in full as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).

The station claimed the lab was branded as "the darkest experiment center of the United States government" by American political news sites without mentioning specific publications. The state-run media outlet also enumerated the various safety concerns related to the lab and stressed that it had been linked to alleged leaks and disappearances of lethal viruses.

It was an apparent attempt to point the source of the virus to America, and it came on the heels of a conspiracy theory that trended on Chinese social media linking the origins of Covid-19 to a U.S. military lab.

The trending topic stemmed from the statement of Hua Chunying, spokesperson from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, daring the U.S. government to open the biological lab at Fort Detrick and invite World Health Organization (WHO) experts to conduct origin-tracing of the coronavirus in the country.

Here is a tweet showing a screenshot of the trending topic on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China, featuring Hua's statement.

The statement heard around Chinese social media

For the uninitiated, here is the meat of Hua’s statement in a press briefing Monday, Jan.18: “I’d like to stress that if the United States truly respects facts, it should open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, give more transparency to issues like its 200-plus overseas bio-labs, invite WHO experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States and respond to the concerns from the international community with real actions.”


The Chinese are clearly employing a misdirection tactic as WHO experts are currently in China to do origin-tracing. The experts are just waiting to end their quarantine before they begin work on the field. The virus's exact origin remains unknown, but the consensus is that it came from bats and jumped to humans through an intermediate host.

The novel coronavirus, scientifically known as SARS-CoV-2, first emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Most of the first cases recorded in Wuhan were associated with a seafood market that was also selling live wild animals such as snakes, rats, beavers and foxes.

China has long been trying to deflect blame while rejecting the widely held assessment that Wuhan is the birthplace of the pandemic. (Related: Wuhan medics say they knew about coronavirus deaths as early as December 2019.)

In March 2020, another Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, tweeted that the U.S. military "brought the epidemic to Wuhan."

Quoting Alexander Kekulé, director of the Institute for Biosecurity Research in Germany, Chinese state-run media claimed that the virus spreading worldwide was "a kind of variant mutating in north Italy."

Kekulé disproved the claim in an email interview with Indian newspaper Hindustan Times, saying that his words were taken out of context from his book and his interview with German television.

India wasn't spared from China's blame game. China’s state-run media Global Times published a story on Nov. 29 last year saying that the earliest human-to-human transmission occurred in the "Indian subcontinent," several months before the Wuhan outbreak. The story quoted a Chinese study titled "The early cryptic transmission and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in human hosts." It was conducted by three researchers, one of them affiliated with the state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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