Now settled in office, it seems that US President Joe Biden is ready to blow the dust off the filthiest part of the China-bashing playbook left by his predecessor — smearing China with the novel coronavirus.
During the 74th World Health Assembly last week, it was by no means a coincidence that US officials, media outlets, think tanks and medical experts resurrected the unfounded allegation that the pandemic was caused by the virus escaping from a laboratory in Wuhan.
That was apparently a well-organized warm-up show to set the stage for Biden’s announcement that he has asked for redoubled efforts to collect and analyze information “that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion on the origins of the outbreak”, and set a 90-day deadline for the report to be delivered to him.
The administrative order means that Washington is turning a scientific research question that should be undertaken by the World Health Organization with the full participation of international experts into a politically-driven investigation by its intelligence community.
This represents a worrying change as previously its pandemic prevention and control initiatives have been one area in which the Biden administration has distinguished itself from the Donald Trump administration.
However, Biden was heavily criticized by the Republicans after he earlier last month called off a China-targeted probe into the source of the virus that was initiated by the Trump administration. Pointing to its poor quality and lack of professionalism, Biden slammed it as a waste of public resources.
If it was his inept response to the virus that prompted Trump to try to pass the buck to China, it is Biden’s fear of getting on the wrong side of Trump’s supporters that has spurred him to fry Trump’s leftover rice, irrespective of the report the WHO issued on March 30, which made it clear that its expert team after conducting field work in China considered a Wuhan lab leak to be “the least likely” source of the outbreak.
No wonder White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt tried to cast doubts on the WHO’s integrity at a coronavirus task force briefing last week, demanding transparency from the world health body.
It is therefore predictable that the report that is to be submitted to Biden in 90 days will lack any credible, first-hand evidence, but instead support its conclusions with rumors, fabrications, wild surmises and anonymous sources.
If the Biden administration intends to politicize and hijack the scientific research on the source of the virus, it will simply show itself to be a bird of a feather with the Trump administration.
The world should not allow the political virus Washington has started leaking again to spread.