Coronaviruses can be “artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus, then weaponized and unleashed in a way never seen before,” wrote 18 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers in a shocking 2015 document titled “The Unnatural Origins of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons.”
The next time someone tries to condescend to you about how and why it is scientifically impossible not only for COVID-19 to have come from a lab, but for it to have been a bioweapon, just repeat those damning words from China’s top military scientists. If that doesn’t change your interlocutor’s mind on the matter, then that person is likely a bad faith actor in this ongoing discussion.
After having initially discounted the “lab leak theory,” the U.S. intelligence community reopened its investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in 2021.
Bio Agent of Chaos: The Fear Pandemic
Standing before an enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Indiana, during the controversial 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump raged against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The soon-to-be 45th president argued that China had been “engaged in the greatest theft in the history of the world” against the United States.
Trump accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive globally. He then added this zinger to the event: “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country!” The Manhattan real estate mogul-turned-reality television star then assured his enthralled audience that, if elected, he’d “turn it around” with China.
After all, in Trump’s estimation, “we have the cards . . . we have a lot of power with China.” Toward that end, the 2016 Trump campaign promise was to “cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete.”
One of the first controversies of the Trump Administration—even before Trump had been sworn in as president—was his first call with a foreign leader. At the urging of former Republican Senate Majority Leader (and one-time Republican Party presidential candidate) Bob Dole, Trump spoke with the pro-independence leader of Taiwan, President Tsai-Ing Wen.
This move by Trump infuriated Beijing.
A few weeks after the Trump call with Taiwan’s leader on November 8, 2016, the Chinese navy captured a U.S. Navy drone operating in international waters. Basically, Beijing was doing its best to test the new, incoming American president, especially after his hostile remarks about China throughout his campaign, and his breaking of diplomatic norms by calling the Taiwanese president.
Once Trump became president in January 2017, he went to work fulfilling his ambitious trade policy against China. Trump was fully committed to getting American and Western companies to move out of China and return to the United States, in a process called “on-shoring.” Trump also started a trade war with China to which he began slapping onerous tariffs on all agricultural goods coming from the United States and going to China.
This, more than anything else Trump said or did against China, was a major red flag for the Communist leadership in Beijing.
Writing in 2009, preeminent geopolitical theorist George Friedman cautioned that China’s greatest fear was an American president who would implement a program of trade protectionism. China, after all, depended upon imports from abroad.
While China has become an advanced country with the world’s second-largest economy, it still has problems with acquiring the resources it needs to survive. Food, energy, essential ores—the very building blocks of a modern economy—have been historically scarce in China.
And this fact has proven to be a strategic vulnerability for Beijing that U.S. war planners, like former Marine Corps Colonel T.X. Hammes as well as Mackubin Thomas Owens, have advocated exploiting.
Food insecurity has often led to regime changes in China’s long history. When Trump began tariffing U.S. agricultural exports—notably the soybean—going to China, in an effort to force China’s leadership to come to the negotiating table, it is likely that many Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, saw this as more than just jockeying for deals. They likely saw it as a declaration of war through other means.
This was precisely what the Chinese had spent the last 50 years doing to America and the West: waging an onerous war through other means.
Some analysts in the West believed that the Trump Administration trade war was a total disaster. It did have some unintended negative consequences for the United States. Notably, the trade war harmed American farmers, who depended on China as a large (and growing) export market for their goods. It hurt American manufacturers as well, since U.S. agriculture companies sold tons of tractors and other farm equipment to China.
By placing tariffs on those goods, President Trump caused prices to skyrocket and slowed their trade with China, hurting both farmers and firms alike. Incidentally, many of these people and industries were essential Trump supporters going into the 2020 presidential campaign.
But despite these negative effects, Beijing ultimately did come to the table. To compound matters for President Xi Jinping, Hong Kong was erupting while Trump was squeezing China with his trade war.
From Beijing, the view was bleak: food was becoming more expensive, and the economy was threatened by a reinvigorated, more hostile America, despite the denials by Western media sources clearly intent on declaring Trump’s trade war a loss before it was even finished.
Then, the denizens of the dynamic city of Hong Kong commenced protesting against Beijing’s new “National Security” Law that most Hong Kongers rightly believed was an attempt to stifle their democracy. Again, Xi Jinping and his ministers likely viewed this as part of a far-reaching conspiracy by the Americans to destroy the CCP without waging a war.
Beijing entered negotiations with Trump from a position of weakness—something China’s rulers have not done in decades when it came to dealing with Americans on trade. They’d effectively gutted the American Midwest of essential manufacturing jobs over the last 40 years and were in the process of pilfering high-tech jobs and other white-collar industries from the West via one-sided trade deals. They did so, that is, until Trump came to power.
China has mastered the art of what’s known as civil-military fusion. This is exactly what it sounds like: the marriage of the private sector and government, specifically the military, into one, cohesive unit—with the CCP sitting atop the whole thing. It is a permanent wartime economy primed at defeating all threats, foreign and domestic, and dedicated to pushing aside any challenger on the international stage, readying China’s eventual rise as the world’s greatest superpower.
American business, political, and scientific leaders believed that after China opened itself to trade with the United States in the 1970s, the two powers would become allies. This was not how the leadership of the CCP saw things. China’s leaders look upon the United States as food to be devoured to make China the dominant world power by 2049, the centennial anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong.
Trade policy with America, therefore, was not viewed by Beijing as merely the negotiated settlement of mutually beneficial economic policies. Instead, Beijing looked at trade with the United States (and the West) as extractive: they needed advanced manufacturing capabilities to build a robust middle class in China that, in turn, would empower China’s rise into a modern, high-tech superpower that could challenge—and defeat—the United States.
Beijing’s communist rulers became adept at using American corporate leaders’ greed, as well as the greed and naivete of American politicians, to their advantage.
In exchange for immense short-term profit, American leaders gave the store to China. Harvard Business School and most other elite institutions in the West looked favorably upon trade with China as a “win-win” that would ultimately convert China into a vibrant democracy permanently aligned with the United States and its Western values. But Chinese rulers saw the ostensibly “free” trade as a chance to supplant America as the world’s leader.
This explains why Beijing’s leaders freaked out when Trump initiated his trade war. Trump wanted a better deal, and he targeted China’s critical importation of foodstuffs from the United States to do it. In short order, unrest fomented in Hong Kong, necessitating a military crackdown, and pressure on China on the world stage mounted.
Xi Jinping did not see these as unconnected events.
As the ultimate embodiment of will-to-power in China, President Xi saw the evil hand of an orange American tyrant who was more attuned to Beijing’s nefarious behavior than any U.S. leader in decades.
To Xi, Trump had declared war on China by going after its essential food supply. Xi thought Trump meant silently to force regime change in Beijing, because this was exactly the kind of thing Xi would do as leader of China. Xi sensed vulnerability everywhere. He needed to strike back at his obnoxious American rival, Donald Trump.
The “Aircraft Carrier of Virology”
China’s military, despite undergoing historic and rapid modernization, was not ready for a traditional war with America. What’s more, China still needed to do business with the West, so attacking the Americans or their allies directly was a bad idea.
Besides, Xi Jinping knew that most members of the American (and Western) elite, regardless of political party, loathed Donald Trump. It is possible that Xi and his strategists determined the best way to “nudge” America into a position that would benefit Beijing without risking a wider kinetic war with the U.S. military would be by launching a biological attack on the United States.
Dr. Sharad S. Chauhan of the Indian Defence Review described China’s sophisticated Wuhan Institute of Virology as the “aircraft carrier of virology” and he reminded his readers that the French intelligence services opposed the decision of Paris to partner with Beijing in building China’s BSL-4 in Wuhan, when China’s leaders first proposed it to France during the SARS outbreak of 2003-04.
According to French intelligence at the time, there was no doubt that China would repurpose their BSL-4 to conduct biological weapons experiments. France’s Directorate General for External Security (DGSE) was concerned that it could not confirm that the technology the Lyon-based firm, RTV, was giving China for the construction of the WIV would be used solely for civilian research purposes.
According to Chauhan, “[RTV] depended on an organization, the China National Equipment of Machinery Corporation (CNEMC), which was controlled by the People’s Liberation Army [emphasis added]” to verify that French technology was not being abused by China for covert bioweapons research.
As Dr. Chauhan assessed, the WIV took 15 years to construct simply because China consistently broke its promises to France about not weaponizing the facility. At every turn, the French would have to come in and verify that China was not planning to convert what was supposed to be a civilian BSL-4 into a bioweapons facility—and the French had difficulty confirming anything. French intelligence later reported that the Chinese were pulling back from their original agreement entirely after construction on the WIV had already been nearly completed.
Is there any wonder why?
Yet the French continued building the facility (likely viewing it as a sunk cost and because Beijing probably greased the wheels, the way it always does when dealing with Western governments). Given the statements of senior Chinese leaders over the last decade, Beijing clearly believes that weaponized biotechnology is the silver bullet its forces need to wage war indirectly against America and its allies.
The WIV was a military operation through and through. U.S. Army Major Joseph Murphy, while serving at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), “objectively analysed [sic] activates planned (and performed) by the Wuhan Institute of Virology in conjunction with various collateral information [and concluded] that the initial virus generating the pandemic was created at WIV, and accidentally leaked therefrom in 2019.”
Dr. Lawrence Sellin, a retired U.S. Army colonel, noted that, “in 2019, [SARS-CoV-2] was sent from the PLA Eastern Theater Command in Nanjing, its headquarters, to WIV, specifically for testing on monkeys.” The WIV and various PLA personnel and programs worked closely together to “enhance bat coronaviruses adaptation to humans (thus leading to SARS-CoV-2),” according to Israeli biodefense expert Dany Shoham.
But the question remains: what strategic end does making COVID-19 as a bioweapon—and deploying it against both the world and your own population—serve?
The New Total War
Trump had declared a trade war on China. He targeted their essential agriculture supplies coming from the United States. While many analysts hectored Trump for having failed in his aims in the trade war with China, the Americans did beat China in the agricultural trade war. Chinese companies that endured Trump’s tariffs sold far less to the United States than they would have sold, had Trump’s trade policies not taken effect.
What’s more, China’s GDP loss as a result of the trade war was “three times as high as the U.S.,” according to estimates from Yang Zhou, an economist at China’s prestigious Fudan University. Despite what critics of Trump argued, China did ultimately cave to Trump. China’s leaders met former President Trump and signed on for a new trade deal, one that was meant to reduce China’s advantages in the agricultural sector.
No matter how small a victory it was for the United States, it was a victory, nonetheless.
Imagine if the Americans started doing this on every major issue with Beijing. Xi Jinping’s back would be broken over time. But Xi and his ministers understood that Trump’s grip on power was tenuous at best. Not only was Trump surrounded by enemies, he was also an unexploded bombshell in the field—he was just as likely to harm his own political fortunes as those of his enemies.
The point of Xi Jinping unleashing a bio attack on the West would have undoubtedly been to remove the real threat in Washington: Donald Trump. That the United States was moving into a presidential election year, when COVID-19 conveniently erupted in China, would not have been missed by Xi in this scenario.
Yet seen one way, in December 2019, Trump appeared unstoppable. The U.S. economy was pressing his “Make America Great Again” agenda on all fronts with powerful effect, despite the opposition of his political rivals, who looked smaller every day. He had survived impeachment. This larger-than-life figure loomed over Beijing and Xi Jinping.
Removing Trump reset the great game in China’s favor. The American people would do it themselves. Allowing for the leak of a virulent pathogen that was deadly enough to induce planetary panic but not enough to destroy China’s economy and political system was a perfect way to achieve this goal. Yes, it was risky. But so long as Trump and his administration were running Washington, China’s presence on the world stage was severely threatened.
The novel coronavirus played perfectly into the communists’ hands. First, it was a proof-of-concept for China’s PLA: if the plan worked, it would be a new means of attack to use on the West. The Western powers would have little defense against this, the ultimate silent killer, a new stealth agent in the global shadow war.
Next, it allowed for the CCP to increase control at home and use “war-time controls” to silence any perceived critics of its regime. It allowed for Beijing to put its populace in a total war mentality. The COVID-19 pathogen disproportionately killed the weak and the elderly—two groups that China’s rulers historically view as burdens on their society and its readiness for war.
Then, the pandemic, once it reached the West, eviscerated the free and open societies there. The pandemic not only destabilized the political order in the United States—which would have been the goal of the operation, if COVID-19 was, in fact, a biological weapons attack—it also killed the American economy.
As the United States and the rest of the West struggled under the weight of the pandemic, China was able to weather the worst aspects of the disease. My colleague at the Asia Times, David P. Goldman, outlined in vivid detail how China’s rulers used COVID-19 as an opportunity to both expand their Orwellian surveillance state as well as to test new advanced technologies to assist in disease mitigation.
Artificial intelligence—using 5G wireless networks and Huawei smartphones that most Chinese citizens owned—was deployed with great effect to identify and isolate individuals who might be infected. At the expansive Chinese manufacturing plants on which the rest of the world is far too dependent for critical goods, sophisticated automated robots were employed to augment the reduced capabilities of human workers during the height of the pandemic.
Indeed, the pandemic (at least in the beginning) worked to the advantage of the CCP’s economy. China re-opened its economy before the Americans could open theirs. In summer of 2020, as the United States was in the doldrums of its pandemic response, China’s GDP growth was stellar, much better than that of the United States. A year later, its economy posted positive gains. As a result, many believe China could possess the world’s largest economy in nominal GDP terms as early as 2028.
Beijing appeared to live up to the fact that, in Chinese, the word for “crisis” is composed of two characters, one representing “danger” and the other “opportunity.”
Plus, if the solution to the pandemic were to increase central control, it makes sense that a highly centralized society, with vicious autocrats running it through an Orwellian security system, would do better than the relatively individualistic, open, and democratic societies of the West. It was a made-to-order crisis for the communists in China.
By 2022, Hong Kong had been mostly crushed beneath the jackboots of the CCP. Xi’s political enemies were being targeted, even as Xi himself, though still firmly in power, was facing stiffer political opposition at the top levels of the CCP for going possibly too far with his COVID-19 response.
The United States had been shaken to its very core by the pandemic: there was regular talk of a pending civil war in the United States between the Left and Right; the economy was the worst it had been in decades; and a sclerotic, potentially dementia-addled septuagenarian, Joe Biden, who was likely in hock to the CCP on some level, had replaced the dynamic and tough Donald Trump.
With the rise of the pandemic went any semblance of the world order that had existed before it. The year 2020 was essentially Year Zero in international affairs. America had been hobbled, and China had been empowered. So, too, had other American rivals, such as Russia, who opted to take advantage of the chaos to push into Ukraine in February 2022.
The Russo-Ukrainian War was hugely destabilizing for the West. It forced the Americans to rededicate their limited global military power away from Asia toward Europe (giving Beijing a window of opportunity), while the Russian invasion into Ukraine, a major agricultural power, caused the price of foodstuffs to rise around the world.
At the same time, America imposed a harsh sanctions regime upon Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine, which took a large portion of fossil fuel sources off the global market, causing the price of energy to rise for everyone—further contributing to America’s economic slump.
And, as that happened, Russia became closer to China as never before—so much so that what had once been idle talk of a new world order led by China and Russia was fast becoming a bleak reality. Much of the energy Russia would have sold to the West, after America got its allies to follow along with its onerous sanctions regime on Russian energy, ended up being sold to China.
Plus, Russia’s excess agricultural capacity (it is an agricultural superpower) was sold over to China, which sat just across a large and porous land border with Russia. With America’s forces distracted by the sideshow in Europe and the Biden Administration crying “havoc” and letting slip the dogs of war in Europe,the Indo-Pacific was left wide open to Chinese aggression. The situation was similar to that during the 20 years of wasteful and inconclusive wars in the Middle East with which the Americans had been occupied after 9/11.
This all occurred because of a microscopic pathogen likely produced by Chinese military scientists in Wuhan, with the financial and intellectual support of American scientists and biotech innovators. Even today, it is a source of controversy to point out that China likely created COVID-19 in a lab. For those who are daring enough to say this, still fewer of them are willing to entertain notions that this may have been a deliberate act of aggression by China’s leadership against America’s.
But it’s hard to overlook the implications of China’s COVID-19 bio attack, if it was, in fact, a biological weapons attack.
Xi Jinping had a bee in his bonnet from 2017-19: Donald Trump. So long as the Orange Man was in the White House, the United States was a significant, direct, and growing threat to China. Once Trump was removed from power, though, the Americans went back to the way they were from the 1970s to 2016.
Historically, American leaders were ambivalent about, even sometimes encouraging of, China’s rise. Overnight, the United States went from Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again” back to the Barack Obama mentality of “managing America’s decline” with Joe Biden’s presidency.
Worse, Trump’s fellow Americans quickly piled on. Essentially, China created a knife with the development of COVID-19, which Xi Jinping happily placed in the hands of Trump’s vicious political enemies at home. Before the pandemic hit the United States, there had been nothing that could stop Trump and no one who could replace him as president in 2020. Once the novel coronavirus washed across America’s bucolic shores, however, all bets were off.
The pandemic turned everything upside down.
With the economy collapsing and fear over the invisible enemy reigning supreme, Trump had nothing to offer a scared American people, who were being further gaslit into hating the Republicans by a biased and vengeful mainstream media machine that worked in conjunction with the Democratic Party.
The media not only strove to eradicate any public support for Trump, but also wanted to replace that public support for Trump with support for a bumbling, aging buffoon, Joe Biden, who under normal conditions, such as the previous two times he ran, could have never been elected president.
Further, as elements of America’s own scientific community and government were intimately involved in supporting the WIV—specifically bat coronavirus gain-of-function tests—suddenly our public health policy response became politically weaponized. The cover-up gripping China soon came to grip the United States. Too many powerful people had too much to lose if the truth got out about what precisely had been going on inside the WIV.
America’s elites recognized COVID-19 as an opportunity to finally rid themselves of the meddlesome 45th president. It wasn’t just the elected leaders of America who were inimical to Trump. It was also the permanent bureaucracy—“the swamp,” as Trump had termed it during the 2016 campaign.
Though they worked for him, most of the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., hated President Trump. This was not only true of those in the intelligence community, a constant bugaboo of the 45th president. It was also true of the health bureaucracies charged with protecting America from a pandemic.
During the pandemic, there was concern that the Trump White House would meddle in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine approval process. Addressing those concerns in a joking manner, the then-Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Public Affairs, Michael Caputo, and the Trump Administration’s Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Stephen Hahn, observed, “Government scientists would sooner climb the roof at the FDA’s White Oak offices in suburban Maryland and light themselves on fire than take political action.”
Caputo reportedly added, “None of those electric cars parked in the parking lot of White Oak have Trump bumper stickers.”
Hahn and Caputo were really saying that the medical bureaucracy in Washington didn’t want to do anything that might enhance the Republican Party’s standing in 2020. They were all Democrats opposed to Trump, the most controversial Republican leader in decades.
Drs. Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins of the NIH were the two primary leaders appointed to run the U.S. response to COVID-19. These two men had funded risky gain-of-function research, both in the United States and, later, at the WIV in China. These were the people who supposedly served President Trump. They were neither friends nor allies, judging from their private remarks and actions.
In this scenario, former President Trump was much like Caesar (if I may evoke the words of Oliver Stone as they related to JFK): he was surrounded by enemies, and something was underway, but it had no face. In this scenario, Fauci, Collins, et al., were not coordinating with Xi Jinping. They didn’t have to.
Their interests simply aligned (as did the interests of the media, Big Tech, and the Democratic Party). These stakeholders responded to the initial input from China—COVID-19—and moved quickly and decisively to defend their interests and further their agenda—all of which happened to gel nicely with Beijing’s own anti-Trump agenda.
The pandemic was the most serious public health crisis in our lifetimes. But when compared to other pandemics in the past, it does not hold a candle. As my friend and colleague Gregory Copley wrote in 2020, COVID-19 was primarily a fear pandemic. The fear of the disease triggered a cascade of responses from the world’s authorities that, in the case of the United States, was entirely out of character.
What’s more, the fear pandemic was so serious that it triggered a series of knock-on responses that reversed the positive trajectory that the United States had been riding, putting the country instead on a path of terminal decline. And, more frighteningly, potentially toward a catastrophic world war—one that America might lose.
COVID-19 as the Perfect Weapon
Thus, if COVID-19 was a bioweapons attack, it was the perfect weapon.
Yes, it killed many people, but it was nothing like previous pandemics. The attack had significant political impact that redounded to the benefit of the CCP. It was, in effect, China’s “Biological 9/11” perpetrated upon the United States. But instead of triggering a military response from America, as Bin Laden’s 9/11 did, the U.S. response to COVID-19 aimed disastrously inward.
Lastly, consider the response of some of America’s closest allies to China in the aftermath of COVID-19. Almost immediately after the pandemic struck the world, Australia, a nation that had concerned Washington because of its growing ties with China, completely reversed course.
In Canberra, Australian leaders who were once totally enthralled by the promise of wealth via trade with China began scrambling for ways to put distance between the two countries’ economies.
Many Australian leaders began publicly denouncing China for its role in the pandemic. In fact, most Australian leaders believed that the COVID-19 pathogen did come from a lab and began publicly demanding that Beijing allow for an international investigation into the WIV. This has obviously caused a great deal of tension in a relationship that Beijing once valued highly.
About whether COVID-19 was a bioweapon, Dr. Mark Kortepeter, a bioweapons expert with years of experience working with the United States Army, concluded in 2020 that, regardless of COVID-19’s true origin, the pandemic has “reminded us of our vulnerabilities as a society” and that he had little doubt that “our adversaries have been taking notes on how challenging it has been for the US to respond effectively” to the pandemic.
Kortepeter ominously concludes, “It is only a matter of time until we face this type of challenge again—either from mother nature or an adversary. Now is the time to shore up the vulnerabilities in our preparedness and response that this pandemic has laid bare.”
If COVID-19 was a bioweapons attack, it was probably a proof-of-concept, a test our enemies were using to prepare for the time when they were ready to launch something truly catastrophic; a weapon against which our society had little defense and one that might give China the advantages it needs to defeat the United States and reorder the system to their liking.
Dr. Koretepeter, therefore, is correct: the bioweapons implications of the pandemic are too strong to ignore, and time is not on America’s side to prepare itself. Judging from how poorly the United States responded to COVID-19, to how readily America’s elites adopted totalitarian strategies, the future looks bleak indeed should we be subject to another pandemic or an actual bioweapons attack from China.
As was noted earlier, the same labs involved with risky gain-of-function research on coronavirus vaccines in China for the last several years are now spearheading extensive research into developing a smallpox vaccine. If COVID-19 emanated from a Chinese lab that had been developing a vaccine for coronaviruses, then people should be fearful of what China is doing with smallpox. Whereas COVID-19 was a nuisance to the global system, smallpox is one of the deadliest pathogens known to man.
Few people today are inoculated against it. What’s more, smallpox has long been a fixation of bioweapons developers because of its virulence and lethality. Thus, if it hasn’t come already in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, society must be prepared for a Chinese-produced Biological 9/11, possibly involving smallpox.