PRC, Coronavirus and Nobel Prize

Dr. Jaipal Singh
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For the consecutive second year now, the life on this probably only green and livable planet is under utter melee, chaos and conundrum. People all over globe have lost their dear ones, jobs and property, and the industry and economy of the countries is in ruin. All along this tragic experience, if at all any country is still progressing comfortably and smiling on others, it is People’s Republic of China under the Mr Xi Jinping. Jinping is currently holding all the three most important portfolios of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) General Secretary, Chairman of Chinese CMC (Central Military Commission) and Chinese President. With this centralization of power, he can easily be described as the dictator of PRC, an address that he would certainly dislike and deny full throttle. In 2018, the two-term limit on the presidency was removed through a constitutional amendment passed during the annual sitting of Parliament with only 2 voting against and 3 abstaining out of 2,964 delegates, thereby paving for Jinping’s presidency for life.

It may be recalled that the Covid-19 disease was first reported in Wuhan toward late 2019. While in next few weeks it was successfully controlled in China with only few stray cases occurring in other parts of the country but the coronavirus soon engulfed the entire globe and most of the countries including India, US and Western Europe are still reeling under the devastating second and third waves of the Covid pandemic. While the novel coronavirus has so far registered infected cases of 187,647,215 people and 4,049,338 deaths worldwide, the Chinese tally is merely 92,066 infections and 4,636 Deaths, majority of it in Wuhan only. Since the world has no independent means to verify the Chinese position and claims, one has to rely on the data released by the Chinese government. While Beijing often talks of help and cooperation but their magic mantra is still missing for the rest of the world to adopt in their endeavour to tame and eliminate the coronavirus.

Towards the mid-2020, under the pressure of the world community of nations, the WHO had constituted a team of experts and scientists to investigate the origin of virus and it transpired that the team was never allowed proper access to the relevant data and Wuhan Virology Institute by the Chinese authorities. The WHO report came out in March 2021 without clearly concluding whether the novel coronavirus is natural or manmade as also if it was an accidental breakout or a deliberate release. In a nutshell, the report created more confusion than any clarity on the issues troubling the world community. Of course, a cover up statement was later made by the current DG WHO saying that assessment by the team was not extensive enough and also that further investigation may be needed, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts that he was willing to deploy.

Thus, the mystery still puzzles the world fraternity how the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated and made news in Wuhan, rapidly spread across the other parts of the world, especially the US, Western Europe and India, while life in China swiftly crawled back so soon to normalcy with business as usual. Another disturbing fact is that when the Covid-19 disease was fast spreading everywhere in 2020, China was engaged in pursuing its hegemonistic ambitions of capturing more territories across the Indo-Tibetan border in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere leading to serious border clashes between the Indo-Chinese troops, in which some 70-75 soldiers, including officers of both sides died, and many more injured. Belligerent China simultaneously adapted similar provocative postures with its Southeast Asian neighbours such as Japan, Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan that prompted the US to dispatch two naval battle groups in the South China Sea.

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, several reports were published in the international media, some even cited unidentified Chinese sources, highlighting suspicious role of the China in the deliberate or accidental release of the deadly coronavirus. The then American President and the US Secretary of State openly criticized the communist country for the corona carnage and ruin of world economy and employment. More recently, a report published in “The Weekend Australian” and some UK tabloids made sensational disclosure citing US intelligence sources that the Chinese military scientists and PLA officials discussed weaponizing SARS coronaviruses as back as in 2015, inter alia suggesting that the World War III might be fought with the biological weapons. These and some more developments including few reported Chinese defections strengthen conspiracy theory behind the outbreak of the deadly virus which is now constantly mutating into more dangerous strains posing far greater threats to mankind.

It is unlikely if a clear case or vision would ever emerge about the Chinese leadership and military considering the option of using the biological weapons to subdue their rivals and adversaries through a pandemic like Covid-19 but the existence of such a lab in Wuhan with such potential maintaining hundreds of potentially dangerous viral strains of Class 4 pathogens (P4) with whatever stated safeguards is a reality strengthening such possibility that cannot be denied. In fact, the thought of using subversive means by China, including bioweapons, against adversaries and to dominate the world as number one country replacing US is not new. Such Chinese strategies were so lucidly depicted in the book "Unrestricted Warfare" written by two senior Chinese military officers in 1999. The most enigmatic and mystifying fact is that none of the countries have been able to stop the coronavirus despite many stringent measures including long spells of severe lockdown, which China has so easily contained in a smally territory of Wuhan, Hubei province in a short time, and that too when the Chinese people are neither known for any good hygiene and cleanliness nor for any better food habits or the healthcare system in the world.

With the passage of time, more leads and evidences have emerged to suggest suspicious Chinese role in the outbreak of the coronavirus. Of course, reports are coming both in favour and against the deliberate or accidental virus release from the Wuhan Lab, and some of them may even be motivated. The focus of Chinese authorities is to justify it’s origin to some animal vector in a Chinese wet market or even to other foreign lands. As corona carnage is refusing to die down worldwide, many scientists too have increasingly favoured an independent and thorough investigation of the “lab leak“ theory. More recently, two scientists, British professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Birger Sorensen have suggested that the pandemic-causing SARS-CoV-2 was artificially created in a laboratory by Chinese scientists, who later covered their tracks by reverse engineering to give virus an appearance of a natural pathogen. The reason for this conclusion was their findings of "unique fingerprints" in Covid-19 samples that could only come from manipulation in a laboratory. The new US President too has recently passed an order to its intelligence agencies to probe the origin of virus and submit a report in ninety days.

The Chinese role in Covid-19 pandemic also came under scrutiny during the recently concluded Group of Seven (G7) Summit in UK, wherein the G7 leaders called for a "timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened" investigation into the origin of the coroinavirus. At a time when there is a growing international demand for the second probe into the Wuhan Institute of Virology with the emerging new evidences and conspiracy theories, probably unnerved and unruffled from these developments, China has come out with a bold demand to the international community towards the end of last month. They insist that the Wuhan Lab has done meritorious research research on COVID-19 in service of the mankind, therefore the Institute should be bestowed with Nobel Prize in medicine, which has already claimed over four million lives globally. Needless to mention the demand is atrocious and has been made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry after Xi Jinping’s administration announced that the Wuhan Lab would be conferred with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Prize in 2021.

While making this demand, the Chinese spokesperson Zhao Lijian hit out at the global scientific community for their stated “assumption” of the coronavirus originating in the Wuhan Lab and leaking subsequently from there. The spokesman audaciously reiterated that the team in Wuhan should be awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their research on Covid-19, instead of criticizing them. In fact, he said in a counter attack that If the US was truly transparent and responsible, it should show an open attitude like China and immediately invite international experts to Fort Detrick (the center of the U.S. biological weapons programme in past) and other places to conduct detailed investigations. The Chinese mouth piece "Global Times" too emphatically published article(s) supporting these claims. Following this episode, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson and media had to face backlash and were trolled by many for their brazen and outlandish claim.

The other day, while sharing light moments with one esteemed senior colleague, I humorously mentioned that the Chinese claim of the Nobel Prize for the scientists of the Wuhan Lab is well deserved and justified in view of their altruistic work and its global impact on life, employment and economy of nations since early 2020, and he promptly quipped in response that, simultaneously, Xi Jinping too deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution!

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