On Friday, NBC News became the first foreign news organization to be granted access to the institute since the COVID-19 outbreak began, visiting the lab and meeting with scientists who had been working on the origin of the coronavirus.
Yuan Zhiming, vice director of the institute, reiterated that scientists at the facility obtained their first samples of the coronavirus after a pneumonia-like illness was firstly reported in Wuhan last December.
“I have repeatedly emphasized that it was on December 30 that we got contact with the samples of SARS-like pneumonia or pneumonia of unknown cause sent from the hospital,” Yuan said. “We have not encountered the novel coronavirus before that, and without this virus, there is no way that it is leaked from the lab.”
He said that regular health checks are conducted for the facility’s personnel. So far the institute has not encountered positive tests for the virus or its antibodies, which would suggest that a person had the virus at some point.
Wang Yanyi, director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said it is unfortunate that she and her colleagues had been targeted as a scapegoat for the origin of the virus.
“Any person would inevitably feel very angry or misunderstood being subject to unwarranted or malicious accusations while carrying out research and related work in the fight against the virus,” she said, urging that politics not cloud investigations into how the coronavirus spilled over into humans.
Wang said that none of the institute’s scientists contracted the virus, which she said made it extremely unlikely that the pathogen could have escaped from the facility.
Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York City-based nonprofit dedicated to studying and preventing pandemics, worked with the Wuhan institute for 16 years until the U.S. government cut funding this year. He also rejected the idea that the virus could have leaked from the lab.
“The fact that they published the sequence so quickly suggests to me that they weren’t trying to cover up anything,” he said. There is “absolutely zero evidence that it escaped from a lab.”
In May, Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also said there’s no scientific evidence the coronavirus was made or escaped from a Chinese lab.
Scientists at work in the BSL-4 lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. /Getty
Why is the lab targeted?
The WIV has become the focus of speculation, as the Trump administration has been fueling conspiracy theories that the virus was leaked from or even manufactured at the Wuhan lab, often through racist rhetoric, by regularly referring to the pathogen as the “China virus,” the “Wuhan virus” or “kung flu.”
The White House has shown no credible proof to back up those claims, and neither have any other sources.
The WIV, founded in the 1950s, is a prominent research institute that enjoyed an even more elevated profile after it opened the BSL-4 lab in 2015, which is the first in China to receive the highest level of bio safety clearance.
NBC News wrote that the institute had become the target of conspiracy theories partly because it is equipped to study the world’s highest-risk infectious agents and toxins, like the latest coronavirus. During their five-hour tour, what the reporters saw were “technicians clad in bubble-like protective suits handled small vials and other equipment while sealed inside a thick-walled glass enclosure.”
Currently, scientists at the lab are focused on the coronavirus. But normally, work at the facility includes research on some of the most dangerous known viruses, such as Ebola.
Xi Says CPC is the ‘Strong Force’ to Lead Chinese People Forward
The past 110 years have proven that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the “strong force” to lead the Chinese people to realize national rejuvenation, President Xi Jinping said at a meeting in Beijing on Saturday marking the 110th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution.
“The Party was chosen to lead by history and by the people… Without the Communist Party there would be no new China and no national rejuvenation,” said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The 1911 Revolution, or Xinhai Revolution, overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and put an end to the absolute monarchy in China.
The history of the Xinhai Revolution began with the Wuchang Uprising, an armed rebellion against the Qing Dynasty rulers that broke out on October 10, 1911 in what is today’s Wuchang District, Wuhan City, in central China’s Hubei Province.
The Revolution marked a historic step, leading to the establishment of the Republic of China (1912-1949) and ensuing social changes in the country.
The People’s Republic of China was then founded in 1949.
On Saturday, Xi said that “socialism with Chinese characteristics has proven to be the only correct path” to realize national rejuvenation.
“On the journey ahead, we must uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, keep adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of our times, remain firmly committed to our aspiration and our path, and make sure the future of China’s development remains firmly in our own hands,” he said.
Xi added that “the Chinese people must rely on our own heroic efforts” to achieve national rejuvenation. “Never has history taken a peaceful or tranquil course; it has always advanced amid setbacks and difficulties.”
He quoted late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who said: “Our forefathers never stopped waging unyielding struggles against domestic and foreign oppressors… By our own indomitable efforts, we the Chinese people will unswervingly reach our goal.”
Xi called on China to “seize the opportunities that the era has offered” in a world that is “undergoing momentous changes of a kind not seen in a century.”
“Through courage and skill, we will overcome all major risks and challenges that may impede our path to national rejuvenation and resolutely safeguard our national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
Xi urged that “the Chinese people and the nation must stick together through good times and bad and rely on our strong unity to overcome all risks and challenges on the road ahead.”
He noted that a united people with a great spirit of patriotism has always been “an important instrument that has allowed the CPC to rally the people’s support and pool their strength” for all endeavors.
He also pointed out that both “a stable and united domestic environment” and “a peaceful and stable international environment” are required to achieve national rejuvenation. “Our people hope to successfully realize national development, but they also hope to see all peoples of the world leading happy and peaceful lives,” he said.
“On the journey ahead, China will always fly the flag of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, strive to promote the building of a human community with a shared future, and endeavor to improve the global governance system,” Xi said.
In his speech, Xi also reiterated that the Taiwan question will be resolved as national rejuvenation becomes a reality. “This is determined by the general trend of Chinese history, but more importantly, it is the common will of all Chinese people.”
“National reunification by peaceful means best serves the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including our compatriots in Taiwan,” he said.
Xi called on compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to “stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve China’s complete reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
CMG: Continue to Support Taiwan Entertainers to Perform on the Chinese Mainland
The gala celebrating the National Day of China broadcast by China Media Group (CMG) has received a warm response at home and abroad. Many entertainers from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions performed on stage with their mainland counterparts, presenting a high quality gala.
In response to the recent threats against actors and actresses by some media in Taiwan, the spokesperson for the Culture and Art Program Center of the China Media Group has replied as follows:
“At every major festival of China, the China Media Group will produce special programs and invite entertainer from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan to join with those in the mainland to participate in the performances and share the glory of the festival.
Taiwan entertainers participating in the variety shows and other activities are well received by the audience.
In disregard of the facts, some media have frequently threatened, intimidated, and slandered Taiwan entertainers who have contacts with the mainland. We are firmly opposed to this. We reiterate that we welcome entertainers from Taiwan to participate in our programs.”
Latest Round of Talks Between China and U.S. Concludes in Switzerland
The latest round of talks between China and the U.S. concluded in Zurich on October 6. Chinese delegates are departing after talks with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
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