China and COVID: Dancing with the Devil

The potential readership for Sharri Markson’s new book increased in June after American television celebrity Jon Stewart shared his views with a left-of-centre audience on the origins of COVID-19: “Novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China. What do we do? Oh, you know who could we ask? The Wuhan Respiratory Coronavirus Lab. The disease is the same name as the lab. That’s just a little too weird, don’t you think?” Not too weird, according to Newsweek magazine, for the viewers who pushed back on social media with ripostes such as: “Honestly can’t tell if Jon Stewart was joking or had a senior moment on Colbert”; “Jon Stewart is flying real close to QAnon territory. Expecting him to go anti-vax any moment now”; and, of course, “like wow, way to throw more gas on the fire of anti-Asian hate”. Stewart’s detractors, though unlikely to be aware of it, were essentially conveying the official line of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Why? Beyond everything else, Markson’s book makes a good start at answering that question as well.

In the first instance, though, What Really Happened in Wuhan establishes the high plausibility of the so-called “lab-leak” theory. It is more than a tinfoil-hat conspiracy dreamed up by the Trump administration, white supremacists, xenophobes, the Murdoch press, anti-Chinese bigots, Cold Warriors and so on—or what Hillary Clinton, in another context, would refer to as a “vast right-wing conspiracy”. One of the many intellectual tragedies of the Cold War was the tendency to conflate anti-communism (or anti-totalitarianism) with a reactionary worldview. A resultant problem was the inability or refusal of self-styled sophisticated observers from the West to grasp the essential despotism of Soviet society, which existed even in what we might now call Late Communism. Revisionist historians, for instance, went out of their way to amplify the non-tyrannical aspects of everyday life in the Soviet empire to argue a broader point: the internal social and political dynamics of a Western society, though obviously different from a communist one, were of a piece.

The most relevant example, on this score, to SARS-CoV-2 and the early cover-up of the character of COVID-19 is the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Reading Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe (2018) is disturbing enough in its own right but infinitely so in the light of the Covid pandemic. Plokhy, winner of the Baille Gifford Prize for Chernobyl, tells the story of a nuclear disaster waiting to happen—waiting to happen on account of the particularities of a one-party communist state. It is no coincidence, argues Plokhy, that the Western world, with its political, legal, judicial, academic and journalistic checks and balances, can make a claim for the “relative safety of its reactors and operating procedures”. Authentic accountability, indisputable transparency and individual responsibility did not flourish in an empire ruled by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). The very same organisation—the Party—that conceived, commissioned and constructed the nuclear reactor was simultaneously responsible for its proper maintenance, the safety of its workforce and the well-being of the local population. The dictatorship of the Party, in short, was a recipe for catastrophe.

The secrecy and lies perpetrated by the CPSU about Chernobyl were just a heightened manifestation of its routine modus operandi. The pursuit of absolute power by Marxist-Leninists without a mandate or popular consent to do so—that is, any kind of legitimacy—makes the dictatorship of the party one of the most terrifying and terrorising political systems imaginable. Belligerence and paranoia are its key components; the belligerence informs the paranoia and the paranoia informs the belligerence in toxic circularity. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Soviet authorities, panicked by the disaster they inadvertently, if predictably, unleashed on the local population, refused to tell the world the real story, even to those most directly affected. Locals, for example, were not relocated for several weeks. The attempted cover-up was no less inevitable than the catastrophe itself. The regime, as Plokhy points out, was right to fear full disclosure of its reckless incompetence. The unfolding truth only exacerbated a growing disillusion in the seven-decade Soviet project. We might note here that the regime in Beijing happens to be seventy years old. Helmsman Xi and the Politburo have every reason in the world to devise and promote an alternative theory to the one that Occam’s razor (and Jon Stewart) points us towards: “The disease is the same name as the lab.”

This review appears in the latest Quadrant.
Click here to subscribe

The disparagement of the lab-leak theory as a far-fetched right-wing outlier should have been put to rest when President Biden’s ninety-day investigation concluded, in August this year, that the lab-leak scenario was no less plausible than the “natural origins” theory. The latter postulates patient zero as a Wuhanese local who contracted the coronavirus while consuming bat soup or some such in the vicinity of a Wuhanese wet market. Contrariwise, Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, who led the world in developing pandemic vaccines over the past twenty years, explained to Sharri Markson, during a world exclusive on Australia’s Sky News back on May 20, 2020, the results of his team’s Oracle-assisted research on the genesis of SARS-CoV-2: “It really looked like this was a virus that was optimally designed to infect humans. It’s better [at infecting] humans than any other animal.” We are, obviously, talking about a virus ill-disposed to infecting a bat or pangolin or name-your-animal and yet is said by Beijing to have been generated in nature. Biden’s report, to turn everything on its head, is too generous by half in describing the natural origins theory as “plausible”. Where, for instance, is the evidence of SARS-CoV-2 existing anywhere in the so-called natural world? On the other hand, the deaths of 4.7 million human beings and the infection of countless millions of others speak directly to Petrovsky’s commonsense observation that the virus is the perfect human pathogen and “optimally designed to infect humans” (emphasis added).                

As expected, Beijing’s English-language mouthpiece, Global Times, ran a series of articles furiously denouncing Biden’s report. These headlines encapsulate the regime’s general line of attack: “US bases virus origins report on second-hand stuff”; “US intel agencies struggle to produce concrete proof to support ‘lab leak’ theory”; and “How did Biden’s intelligence team concoct the 90-day report on coronavirus origins?” Beijing’s argument, in other words, is that the Biden administration has no incontrovertible incriminating evidence to prove the veracity of the lab-leak theory. There is, of course, a high degree of duplicity in this kind of gainsaying given that General Secretary Xi’s regime ordered the database of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) taken offline in late 2019, the destruction of early samples of COVID-19, the disappearance of key witnesses to the early days of the epidemic and, to this day, denies the involvement of the People’s Liberation Army in WIV research. Is it so surprising, then, that “US intel agencies” would “struggle to produce concrete proof to support ‘lab leak’ theory”?

The totalitarian character of Xi Jinping’s Leninist regime, always for the people but never of the people, is also its potentially greatest flaw. The staff writers at Global Times et al are not reporters in the traditional Western sense. They are apologists for the Party rather than genuine investigators in search of the truth; their seeming cleverness and caustic declamations fail to conceal an absence of sophistication or understanding of investigative or historical method.

There need be no smoking gun for us to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that SARS-CoV-2 was the result of gain-of-function research at WIV. To take a parallel case: the Nazis attempted to hide their crimes at Auschwitz-Birkenau as the Red Army approached—forcing the remaining inmates to go on a long death march, dismantling buildings and destroying crematoria and gas chambers—but the convergence of evidence, nevertheless, affirms that 1.1 million (mostly Jewish) civilians were murdered at the site. The same, in its own way, could be said about the convergence of evidence provided in Sharri Markson’s What Really Happened in Wuhan. Xi’s regime has never allowed an independent inquiry of events on the ground and yet a thoroughgoing examination of the evidence that is available to us will likely point any genuine sleuth in the right direction.                         

Markson, over the past eighteen months, has attracted no small degree of ridicule from the likes of the Guardian and the ABC, Media Watch’s Paul Barry being a case in point. In May 2020, for instance, Barry devoted two of his programs to attacking Markson’s early reporting of the lab-leak theory. The condescending presenter lambasted Markson for a story published in the Daily Telegraph: “How plausible is it that the deadly coronavirus was made in or escaped from a Chinese lab?” he sneered. The idea that SARS-CoV-2 escaped a laboratory, according to Barry, had been “widely criticised, denied and dismissed by intelligence agencies and virus experts”. Barry’s sarcastic demeanour, captured forever on YouTube, is reminiscent of the scornful tone adopted by the staff reporters for Global Times. Their appeal is not to the reason of viewers or readers but to their emotions. No attempt is made to take the lab-leak hypothesis seriously—if only to reject it, after due consideration, as deficient. Paul Barry’s insinuation that he happens to be a cerebral heavyweight and Sharri Markson a tabloid lightweight is contradicted by the comprehensiveness of What Really Happened in Wuhan.

In the chapter titled “0.3 Per Cent”, for example, Markson makes the case that laboratory incidents are relatively commonplace and not only in the PRC: “At laboratories around the world there have been accidents involving smallpox, anthrax, H5N1, SARS, brucellosis and a vast range of other lethal diseases that scientists had been prodding and probing.” The title of the chapter refers to the calculated probability of an escape/leak from a single high-security lab in any given year. It might take 536 years, wrote Lynn Klotz, Senior Fellow at the US Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, for the probability of a leak from a given bio-lab pursuing gain-of-function research and causing a pandemic to approach 80 per cent. However, given there are likely forty-two high-security labs in the world, the likelihood of a lab escape rises from once in 536 years to once in 12.8 years. Markson cites Nicholson Baker’s Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act (2019), which claims that as early as 1960 hundreds of American scientists and technicians had been hospitalised, “victims of the disease they were trying to weaponise”. In short, Paul Barry’s incredulity about a lab-leak scenario rings hollow.

His naysaying becomes even more specious if the shortfalls of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, specifically its BSL-4 laboratory, are considered. Markson notes numerous danger signs but for our purposes it is enough to limit ourselves to the concerns of Yuan Zhiming on the eve of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. After all, Yuan is the director of the WIV’s BSL-4 laboratory. Dr Yuan is one of those PRC medical experts wheeled out by Xi’s regime to defend the impeccable safety record of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In May this year, for instance, Yuan strenuously denied a Wall Street Journal story claiming US intelligence cognisance of researchers from WIV’s National Biosafety Laboratory (BSL-4 Laboratory) falling ill with COVID-19 symptoms as early as November 2019. “I’ve read it, it’s a complete lie,” asserted Dr Yuan, as if he could give any other answer without being “disappeared” by the regime. Yuan, in a 2020 interview for the China Global Television Network, insisted that Wuhan’s National Biosafety Laboratory “had been operating safely and with no evidence of any leak or human infection” throughout 2019.

A very different Dr Yuan emerges in Sharri Markson’s book. Safety procedures even at his own facility, warned Yuan Zhiming back in 2016 via the Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, were inadequate: “At present, only one Level 4 laboratory has been built in the country, and the management and maintenance of its key equipment and the personnel’s mastery of the standardised operating procedures of Level 4 laboratories are not mature enough.” There were, wrote Yuan, problems with the supervision of research activities, including “sample transfer, storage and testing”, and a paucity of “emergency plans”. Additionally, there was—and here again we are reminded of the Chernobyl disaster—an absence of proper governmental and legislative oversight. In early 2019, Yuan was still expressing concerns about laboratory safety. These are his own words in an article for the Journal of Biosafety and Biosecurity in September 2019:

In such facilities, some of the skilled staff is composed by part-time researchers. This makes it difficult to identify and mitigate potential safety hazards in facility and equipment operation early enough. Nonetheless, biosafety awareness, professional knowledge, and operational skill training need to be improved among laboratory personnel.

The Western world has, to an ever-increasing extent, been dancing with the devil ever since President Nixon made his historic visit to the PRC in February 1972. Richard Nixon’s rendezvous with Mao Zedong was, to be fair, not out of any admiration or affection for the CCP’s totalitarian regime. The old Cold Warrior simply wanted to exert leverage on the Soviet Union, America’s then arch-rival—his tête-à-tête with Mao worked a treat, formally transforming the Cold War into a three-way affair and opening the way for a decade of détente between Washington and Moscow (which ended in tears, but that is another story). At least Nixon’s realpolitik was not based upon any illusion about the latent democratic potential of the CCP. That was the kind of fantasy entertained by his successors and almost the entirety of the West’s intelligentsia and commentariat, especially after paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and the ostensible “moderates” in the CCP grabbed the helm after Mao’s demise in 1976. Not even the crushing of the Democracy Wall movement in 1979 and the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989 could dissuade the West of the fantasy that inviting the CCP regime into the UN Security Council, the World Health Organisation, the World Trade Organisation and so on would turn the PRC into a responsible and trustworthy partner in the global community of nations.

Almost everything about the history of the Wuhan Institute of Virology speaks to the folly of the Western world’s faith in the CCP regime metamorphosing into something—that something never quite explained—that would somehow be closer to what we might term “liberal” rather than straight-out despotic. But the CCP is not a party in the customary sense we define a political party: it is more like an “order”, a clandestine operation that not only seeks absolute power but would collapse—like the now defunct Marxist-Leninist parties/governments of the Soviet empire—if required to genuinely share power with separate independent entities. Beijing joining WHO, for instance, meant that, over the long haul, either WHO became an adjunct of Beijing, or the unyielding Party Politburo chose to do the existentially impossible and submit to a power greater than itself.

The communist regime’s zero-sum creed characterises its every action—autonomous players can form what seem to be mutually advantageous alliances with Beijing but in the end are forced into unprincipled compromise or deceived or spurned, or all three. Thus, WIV’s Biosafety Laboratory was completed with assistance from the French government’s CIRI lab and yet shortly thereafter French scientists, who might have provided critical supervision of Dr Zhengli’s research, were excluded from the site. It was the same with US government investment in the Biosafety Laboratory: American dollars were welcome but not comprehensive American oversight of its gain-of-function research involving slicing, manipulating and combining genetic sequences of coronaviruses. For many American scientists, writes Markson, the likelihood of research at WIV’s Biosafety Laboratory providing protection against a future pandemic has always been outweighed by the danger of such work instigating a pandemic through the accidental release into the world of a deadly pathogen. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Chief Medical Adviser to the President, remains of a different opinion. As recently as June this year, “America’s doctor” admitted he could not “guarantee everything going on in the Wuhan lab, we can’t do that”; and yet it was worth taking a chance on Dr Zhengli et al because of the possibility of another virus jumping species and infecting humans as per the original SARS in 2002. Fauci had turned Ronald Reagan’s catchphrase “Trust but verify” into something more along the lines of “Trust but don’t verify”.

Paul Barry’s confidence, back in May 2020, that the lab-leak scenario had been “widely criticised, denied and dismissed” by “virus experts” owes something to the fact that the only experts given an airing at the time, not least on the ABC, were all unwavering in their view that the lab-leak theory was an impossibility. The ABC’s science team (known as “Science Friction” for some reason), posted an article online in April 2020 that showcased the opinion of Dr Hume Field, a spokesman for EcoHealth Alliance. “From a scientific point of view,” asserted Field, “the argument that it’s a manufactured virus has been totally discredited.” Moreover, Wuhan’s live market was an “absolute recipe” for new coronaviruses to jump species: “You’ve got this mixing of species and this potential mixing of viruses in these animals that are under stress, sick and dying as they’ve gone from their wild environment to the market.” Only much later, in 2021, would those uninitiated into the labyrinthine ways of government-science linkage learn that the US-based EcoHealth Alliance, under the auspices of Dr Peter Daszak, had long provided funding for the research carried out at Wuhan’s National Biosafety Laboratory.

The latest on Peter Daszak—postdating the publication of What Really Happened in Wuhan—is a report that back in 2018 the Pentagon’s research and development arm (DARPA) rejected a $14.3 million proposal by EcoHealth Alliance to pursue gain-of-function work on bat viruses because it put “local communities at risk”. According to documents obtained by the online investigation group DRASTIC, Daszak’s 2018 proposal claimed his organisation’s so-called “DEFUSE Project” would protect members of US military stationed in South-East Asia: “Our goal is to analyze, predict, then ‘DEFUSE’ the spillover potential of novel bat-origin high-risk SARSr-COVs in South-East Asia. This will safeguard the US war-fighter.” Daszak, surely, is describing here the very process scientists such as Flinders University’s Nikolai Petrovsky are accusing the WIV’s National Biosafety Laboratory of having performed to create SARS-CoV-2: “We will introduce appropriate human-specific cleavage sites and evaluate growth potential in Vero cells and human airway epithelial cells cultures.” To put it as simply as possible, Daszak was advocating research to create a virus with human-to-human transmissibility that owes some of its origins to nature but, as a discrete viral entity, has no antecedence in nature. DARPA, fearful of gain-of-function research, wanted nothing to do with something that, in layman’s terms, gives every indication of constituting a dangerous obsession. The powers-that-be in the PRC had no such compunction about the research work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Dr Daszak and his EcoHealth Alliance, including Dr Field, were instrumental in framing the lab-leak theory as an absurdity. Maybe the most disturbing example of Daszak’s unscrupulous campaign to discredit any view opposed to his own was the communique published by the Lancet on February 19, 2020. It speaks not of science, as we have understood it in the West for centuries, but Stalinism. Key scientific figures, co-ordinated we now know by Peter Daszak, put their name to this mawkish and disingenuous memorandum:

We are public health scientists who have closely followed the emergence of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and are deeply concerned about its impact on global health and wellbeing. We have watched as the scientists and medical professionals of China, in particular, have worked diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak, put in place significant measures to reduce its impact … We sign this statement in solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China who continue to save lives and protect global health during the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak. We are in this together, with our Chinese counterparts in the forefront, against this new viral threat. The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.

The science community is not supposed to be affected by political partisanship, and journals such as the Lancet are meant to be gatekeepers of objectivity and the scientific method. But if politics in the West has often challenged the integrity of scientists, the politics of totalitarian China threatens to obliterate their integrity altogether. Daszak’s commandeering of the Lancet helped create an orthodoxy of opinion amongst the scientific establishment that had nothing to do with actual science and everything to do with keeping Beijing onside. Not unconnectedly, Nikolai Petrovsky and his team’s supercomputer-powered investigation of the character and likely origins of SARS-CoV-2, which authoritatively demoted the natural origins theory in favour of the virus coming into existence in a laboratory, could not find a publisher in one of the premier scientific journals—or even a pre-peer-reviewed outlet—in April 2020. The “prevailing scientific political orthodoxy”, to use Petrovsky’s words, meant that at the time only research suggesting natural origins could get past the science establishment’s gatekeepers.

Eventually, in June 2021, Petrovsky’s findings were published, after extensive peer reviews, in the respected journal Natural Scientific Reports. Many other research papers corroborating the man-made hypothesis have now been published in high-profile journals, not least British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian Dr Birger Sørensen in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery. SARS-CoV-2 has never been found in nature because it has “no credible natural ancestor”. Superficially the virus has the appearance of natural origins only because it has been “retro-engineered” to seem as if it originated in nature. The virus that causes COVID-19 happens to be unnaturally contagious because—brutally stated—it is unnatural. The chapters in What Really Happened in Wuhan titled “Scientists Speak Out” and “The Scientists Who Knew” detail other “virus experts” at odds with Peter Daszak’s February 2020 communiqué in the Lancet and Paul Barry’s May 2020 invective.   

By the middle of 2021, thanks to peer-reviewed anti-consensus science papers, even the BBC had to admit its earlier dismissal of the man-made scenario might have been hasty. One of their online posts sported this headline: “Covid origin: Why the Wuhan lab-leak theory is being taken seriously”. The turning of the tide—or at least partial turning of the tide—explains why a progressive celebrity such as Jon Stewart could finally come out as a lab-leak-theory guy in mid-2021 and hope to be invited back on television. Better late than never, of course, but Markson’s fearlessness is of a whole different magnitude. Her sixteen-minute May 2020 Sky News interview with Petrovsky was a “scoop” in the most important sense of that word. Here was Professor Petrovsky, through the agency of Sharri Markson, enlightening the world on the origins of a nightmarish pandemic killing millions of people and generating historic levels of chaos on the planet. Only the world, at the time, was not ready to listen.

Why the world, including the most powerful elites in the West, was not ready to hear the truth is the other—no less important—theme of What Really Happened in Wuhan. How did the world allow itself to be co-opted, conned and compromised by Beijing? After all, it should not have been too hard to work out that the cover-up and the origins mystery entirely overlapped. For instance, if the Wuhan market was an “absolute recipe” for the animal-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2, why was there no attempt by the local authorities, or at least no recorded attempt, to establish the presence of the virus in that precinct before it was comprehensively sterilised and re-opened? And why did Beijing refuse to allow American and other independent scientists access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in January 2020 as a matter of urgency? Or earlier, given that, according to Markson, the existence of “internal Chinese government documents trace the first recorded case of Covid-19 to November 17, 2019”. Markson’s research also found a report in the South China Morning Post disclosing that, ten days earlier on November 7, the National Health Commission of China gave formal approval to the National Biosafety Laboratory to engage in “experimental activities of highly pathogenic microorganisms”. How did the world end up blaming the horror of 2020-21 on the humble pangolin, a rare and remotely located critter unlikely to be present in the Huanan seafood market or indeed anywhere in Wuhan?

The short answer is that Xi Jinping told us it was the pangolin or bat soup that started it all and a lot of powerful people, including WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom, decided they had no choice but to make an unprincipled compromise and submit to whatever Beijing says. The February 2020 WHO investigation in Wuhan was, as expected, a farce. After a non-inspection of the National Biosafety Laboratory, mission leader Dr Embarek concluded that it was “extremely unlikely” that SARS-CoV-2 had spread from a lab leak. Peter Daszak even said the focus of future investigations needed to shift to South-East Asia: “China is a very big place and South-East Asia is a very big place. The supply chains to the Huanan seafood market were extensive, they were coming in from other countries, they were coming in from various parts of China, so to really trace that back it’s going to take some work.” Daszak’s inclusion in the inspection team—are we shocked to learn?—was a pre-condition set by Xi for the WHO “investigation” to take place.

Clearly, the world has allowed itself to be co-opted, conned and compromised because that is what “partnering” the CCP requires. Declining to submit to the Red Emperor is to court disproportionate retaliation, as the Morrison government discovered, back in April 2020, after it respectfully called for an independent inquiry into the genesis of COVID-19. What is disturbing—and what Markson’s What Really Happened in Wuhan brilliantly explores—is the duping of President Trump by President Xi in the early weeks of 2020. In a telephone hook-up on February 6, Xi allegedly made the astonishing claim that the new virus “would disappear in the warmer summer months and even said that Chinese medicine was successful in preventing Covid-19”. A day later Trump was praising Xi’s “strong, sharp and powerfully focused” strategy to contain the virus. Trump might not have been so sanguine had he been aware of the panic that had gripped the regime by that date, denial and paralysis now transmuting into brutal suppression of the people of Wuhan and a brutal suppression of the truth. Xi would have known what Trump did not know at the time—a pandemic was on its way—and yet Xi chose to play it relaxed and optimistic. The warmer months came to America, but the virus did not disappear.

There is the added point, as Markson noted in a recent interview, that the Chinese began working on a vaccine in late 2019, which was before the world even knew about the virus: “What that indicates is that they were aware there was a problem, and they were working on a vaccine for it before they told the World Health Organisation that there was outbreak.” Trump was also blindsided by the fact that his chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, failed to inform him of the purpose of the WIV, an institution that ran projects Fauci himself had helped fund through the agency of NIAID: “Dr Fauci knew exactly what was happening at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. He was sitting in every Oval Office meeting but never mentioned to Donald Trump that there’s a lab in Wuhan that has the world’s largest collection of coronaviruses.” No wonder it took until April 16, 2020, before Trump confirmed there would be an investigation about whether SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab. By then, of course, the American people had been persuaded by the mass media to regard such a notion as a “fringe theory”. It was just another example, then, of Trump being Trump. Fortunately, or so the narrative went, the sensible Dr Fauci could keep an eye on any fresh COVID-19 initiatives emanating from the White House.         

Markson’s brilliant investigation leaves us confident enough that Beijing did not deliberately release SARS-CoV-2 upon the world. Once the virus was out there, though, and once the regime had regained its nerve, Beijing did everything in its power to turn an international crisis of their making into a victory. That is the phenomenon we are dealing with here. One of the more admirable figures to emerge in What Really Happened in Wuhan is Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with several key White House advisers including Peter Navarro. Though all very different in their expertise and character, common to them all is the understanding that engaging in any kind of relationship with the CCP really is akin to dancing with the devil.

What Really Happened in Wuhan: A Virus Like No Other
by Sharri Markson

HarperCollins, 2021, 432 pages, $32.99

Daryl McCann, a regular contributor, has a blog at He wrote on 9/11 in the September issue.

  • Adelagado

    If there’s just one ‘wet market’ per million people in China you’ll still have over 1000 wet markets. What an amazing coincidence then that the virus popped up in the market right next to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

  • ianl

    >”The science community is not supposed to be affected by political partisanship, and journals such as the Lancet are meant to be gatekeepers of objectivity and the scientific method”

    This has genuinely disappointed me, although that disappointment began over 30 years ago with advent of climate change activists.

    And I wish Markson well, although so far nothing has been published that wasn’t known in November 2019, especially by the Taiwanese Govt Health officials. The world, including WHO, may have ignored the WIV lab leak in early 2020, but it had completely ignored the Taiwanese warning email in November 2019. Sky News is also to be thought well of here for publishing this material – other outlets so far will not. Note as well that our own CSIRO were/are contributing authors to gain-of-function research papers for over 30 years – this contingent is now discreetly silent.

    Sneery Paul Barry (Media Watch, ABC) insists that climate change is caused by anthropogenic “carbon” emissions, so he cannot tell a solid from a gas. Why people bother with him is beyond me.

  • young bill

    It was fairly obvious from the start that the source was the Wuhan lab – the conspiracy theory was that the release was deliberate.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Sharri Markson has done an amazing job in pulling together all the threads which prove beyond reasonable doubt what did happen in Wuhan. Given that this has been the most internationally significant piece of journalism to come out of Australia this year it will be interesting to see what happens at the next journalism awards. If she doesn’t get the gong it will be interesting to see how the leftwing propagandists who control these things explain it.
    Speaking of leftwing propagandists, I never thought I would see a sentence which included both the words cerebral heavyweight and Paul Barry. The extra word oxymoron comes to mind. As demonstrated over many years by Gerard Hendersen, Barry never lets the facts get in the way of his politics. The contrast with Markson is extreme and to her credit.

  • Stephen

    Markson is an exemplar of what true journalism should be rather than what passes for it much of todays main stream media. The parallel pointed out in this article with Chernobyl is clear. China is facing many serious problems, environmental degradation, rapidly rising debt, demographic collapse, foreign business departure, serious energy and food shortages and the rest. Xi’s strategy to keep the Chinese Communist Party in power seems to be to promote ultra nationalism. The Chinese people are denied all other sources of information other than what the CCP feeds them. When the collapse comes the CCP will blame everyone else other than themselves including foreign Governments and people. Devoid of any other information the Chinese people will probably agree. There are dangerous times ahead.

  • maxpart27

    Morrison has not done many things to be admired for but saving Australia by isolating us even when WHO was saying “It is nothing” has to be a big plus, This article is excellent and should be read by all.

  • Seneca

    I work in a university. I’ve only spoken to a few of my colleagues of Chinese heritage, but all of those think the lab leak is the most likely (one said “definitely”). Not designed in the lab, but leaked from it, perhaps after some adaption for human-like ACE2 receptor mice.

    My previous university had a link-up with a Chinese one, with a jointly-designed lab project to be located in China (not Wuhan). The driver for the Chinese side was speed, speed and more speed. That’s how the officials get credit. Build fast now, solve safety issues later (if at all).

    I notice that there have been 2 explosions at Chinese university chemistry labs this month alone, with 4 deaths. The difference in skimping on safety in chemistry as opposed to infectious medicine is that in chemistry you can only harm those immediately present. But why would the safety culture be much different in these two types of research labs?

    After seeing these things, what do you think I think?

  • bomber49

    I’m sure that if Trump said that source of the virus was a pangolin then the Left would have said it was a leak from a laboratory.

  • wardcj2018

    The balance of probability is that Covid emerged from the Wuhan laboratory. Intentionally or not, its spread and variants suggest that weaponising of viruses is a cheap and effective method. Presumable at some stage it will be recognised as part of the CBW inventory and those who fine tune it, will never be known. What has disturbed me the most is that Our/Your ABC has been complicit in what amounts to disinformation and that can be traced to intelligence organisations. I resent my taxes being spent on ABC-TV news and current affairs to propagate the sordid Guardian view of most news (when all else fails Blame the Americans). The oleaginous Paul Barry can be the most noxious presenter of the ABC line, despite the surgical dissection by Gerard Henderson. My experiences during the Cold War indicated that part of Abc radio were like an outstation for the Kremlin or the KGB. Why the current government can’t see the inherent danger of funding an organisation determined to destroy it is beyond my comprehension. The BBC is nearly as bad and this fellow readers is a signpost to the future. Given the political reactions to Covid and the variety of government responses in terms of restrictions on civil rights is fraying the structure of the ill-named commonwealth. Now is the time for a review of the Constitution in order to protect citizens from the chaos that has been Covid and prevent its political weaponisation. The danger associated with such a step is obvious: the usual suspects arguing their case because with power being held by a political class involving politics, the legal system, big business and so forth – 1984 becomes 2024.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.