Citing "multiple sources", Fox News reported on Wednesday that "patient zero" with the new coronavirus was a Wuhan lab employee. The virus was transmitted to one of the laboratory employees from a bat. This research associate is claimed to have later become its vector among the city residents.
The TV channel notes that the laboratory's activities were aimed at demonstrating "that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States."
Asking a relevant question from journalists, US President Donald Trump neither confirmed, nor denied this information. "Well, I don’t want to say that... but I will tell you, more and more we’re hearing the story, and we’ll se. We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation," the US lieder said.
Meanwhile, CNN says the US intelligence services are scrutinizing the narrative according to which the coronavirus could allegedly have started spreading from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Actually, information that Chinese scientists at the CAS-administered Wuhan Institute of Virology have been studying bat coronaviruses is not a secret or a sensation. Information to this effect was revealed by the Xinhua news agency back in May 2018.
"We can proudly say to have joined the ranks of world leaders in studying the immune mechanisms of bats that allow them carry viruses for a long time without getting sick themselves. From such virus-hosting bats humans can hopefully learn how to resist viruses," the news agency wrote. Relevant publications by Chinese scientists appeared in the international scientific Nature magazine.
At the same time, Fox News sources indicate that the appearance of the virus was not entailed by the development of bioweapons. However, we should not overrate the TV company's credibility.
The natural origin of the virus has been repeatedly confirmed by experts. "There is no evidence whatsoever of genetic engineering that we can find," Trevor Bedford, one of the world's leading experts on tracking the outbreak of coronavirus infection, commented on the rumors back in February. "The evidence we have is that the mutations [in the virus] are completely consistent with natural evolution."
However, the idea of China's involvement in the pandemic emergence is taking a new turn.
Previously, both President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo persistently called the coronavirus "Chinese", alluding to its artificial origin. Another line sold was the one that the PRC glossed over the facts about the Wuhan outbreak. Today, a new narrative is being advanced claiming that the pandemic was caused by wilful negligence of the Chinese.
In any case, the desire to hold China responsible for the pandemic and attempts to unleash an international propaganda campaign are obvious.
Its features were not long in coming. US statements were immediately supported by Europe.
"There's no doubt: we can't have business as usual after this crisis, and we’ll have to ask the hard questions about how it [the virus] came about and about how it could've been stopped earlier," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated when asked about relations with China in the context of coronavirus spread.
In his turn, French President Emmanuel Macron said the following in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper: "Let’s not be so naive as to say it’s been much better at handling this," adding that there are clearly things the world still doesn't know about.
There are several reasons for China's stigmatization.
Trump is quite obviously trying to evade responsibility for shallow statements about the epidemic peril. "The risk to the American people remains very low. We have the greatest experts in the world," he said in late February 2020. Amid America's global leadership as to disease statistics, this may cost him presidency.
Moreover, given China's relatively modest mortality statistics by current American and European standards, the situation is clearly payable to China. Its death toll is 10 times lower as compared to the 35,000 casualties in the United States. The latter is certainly trying to compensate for the enormous damage to its international reputation by means of vigorous anti-Chinese propaganda.
Concurrently, China's efforts to help other countries are being devalued.
It is understood that China has sort o f drawn a line under the epidemic in its own country, while the United States and Europe are barely seeing the "light at the end of the tunnel". In this regard, we can confidently predict that the propaganda offensive against China will only flourish: international investigations, compensation claims, information pressure, what's next?
Russia is certainly backing Beijing, for which cause Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Xi Jinping on April 16. The leaders agreed that "mutual support in countering this global threat is further evidence of the special nature of the Russian-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has in turn called the coronavirus-related claims to China unacceptable.
The gap between the West and the Russian-Chinese alliance is deepening to become one of the pandemic consequences.