China [email protected] is occupying centre stage in American politics with presidential elections six months away and political rallies about to get underway shortly as lockdowns are relaxed. China could not be in a happier position with the political slugfest between candidates likely to dilute its culpability in the virus outbreak. The US intelligence says COVID-19 was not man-made without elaborating how it was released, which may be by design so as not to upset either presidential candidate. Recall US intelligence of 2016 stating that the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Afghanistan was coalescing of disgruntled Afghan Taliban and Pakistan cadres, but did not elaborate they were put together by Pakistan’s ISI and ISKP cadres included ISI, Pakistani regulars, Mujahids and terrorist organizations like the LeT.
But then China Daily had boasted in 2018 that Wuhan is a repository of 15,000 viruses, a collection painfully undertaken by humans, and so was the release of the virus. Whether the release was by default or design is the beauty of ambiguity in a biological attack of this nature. US President Donald Trump wants to get to the bottom of origin of COVID-19 which will be no easy task since China has destroyed the evidence as best it can and will not permit any probe in Wuhan. On the contrary, China has threatened Australia for demanding an independent probe and similar threat to the EU has made the latter whittle down its statement on China’s disinformation campaign. But best of all, Tedros Adhanom, DG AWHO has dug in his heels in support of China even on the issue of withholding information about the virus outbreak
Tedros is a former member of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – a violent revolutionary communist party of Ethiopia that denied emergency treatment to an ethnic group. He was accused of personally overseeing the extradition of dissidents who were then imprisoned and tortured. Tedros reportedly downplayed cholera epidemic in Ethiopia in 2006, 2009 and 2011. Being the number three of the ‘violent’ TPLF, Tedros was already aligned morally and psychologically with the regime in Beijing. China cultivated him when he was a minister in Ethiopia and canvassed for him to be installed as DG AWHO. Little wonder then that Tedros parrots what China wants. China has obviously rewarded him richly as an individual in addition to the $20 million aid to WHO few months back and another $30 million recently. Forget outbreak, Tedros will fight tooth and that China did not delay information about the virus outbreak, despite evidence to the contrary, because such admission will implicate the violent communist Tedros himself.
US and Australia may be wanting India to take a firm stand against China over the origin and outbreak of COVID-19 once India is to assume charge of WHO’s Executive Board in end May, but that is unlikely to happen. With Tedros vehemently placing on record how innocent China is, India may find difficult to reverse the stand already taken by WHO. Tedros has also launched a charm offensive, perhaps on Beijing’s behest, praising India even for its anti-polio drive though India eradicated polio years back. Given the geopolitics of the region and history of India-China relations, India will probably steer clear for fear of annoying the dragon. Incidentally according to one report, hundreds of Chinese vehicles were spotted few kilometers from the border with India, with speculation they may be disposing off dead bodies of COVID-19 related casualties whose actual numbers China hid from the world.
Whether China planned the biological attack or withheld information about the outbreak, it gave lead time for its considerable manufacturing capacity to stock up on COVID-19 testing kits, ventilators, PPEs and masks, making millions of dollars from their sale to countries worldwide. It did not matter whether these were duds or defective because ethics are not in the lexicon of the Chinese regime. If the equipment was dud, it was just too bad. On the other hand, if Chinese supplies were defective, more virus would spread which in turn meant more purchase demands on China who could meet very large demands from countries caught unprepared by the virus attack. China never apologized for the duds or defective equipment anyway even though exports are not possible without concurrence of the CPC. Even in the case of India discovering dud Chinese equipment, China merely expressed “concern”.
On April 1, China announced its scientists had isolated several antibodies that are extremely effective at blocking the ability of the COVID-19 to enter cells. These antibodies were not a vaccine but could potentially be given to at-risk people with the aim of preventing them from contracting Covid-19. At the same time there was also speculation that China had already developed a vaccine for COVID-19 which it had used in stopping the spread of COVID-19 to its capital Beijing and other cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou while capitals of other nations have been hit hard. Sale of vaccine or a drug for to treat COVID-19 will earn China millions and millions of dollars given the fact that this virus is far more wishes than the Swine Flu which lingered on for years.
Who will find the cure for COVID-19 remains a subject of speculation amidst multiple countries feverishly researching the same. Donald Trump wants to imposes more sanctions on China for the virus outbreak but perhaps he is unaware of the deep tentacles of China for making profit out of not only equipment for fighting COVID-19 but also treatment for the virus. The US FDA has recently approved the drug Remdesivir for emergency use for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Dr Anthony Fauci finds the drug good and has said, “The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. … What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.” Donald Trump is enthusiastic about Remdesivir and has described it as the “hot thing” to the media.
The surprise is that Remdesivir is made by Gilead and China holds the patent on Remdesivir through an agreement with Gilead’s drug patent sharing subsidiary branch UNITAID who has an office near Wuhan. The main financial investors in UNITAID are George Soros, Bill and Melinda Gates, and WHO. Media also says that Gilead and UNITAID were financial supporters of Hillary Clinton. Another report says Dr Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funded $3.7 million to Wuhan Institute of Virology for research on bats during the Obama regime, which Trump wants Fauci to explain. Wuhan Institute of Virology confirmed in 2018 that humans had died from Coronavirus – same year China Daily boasted of Wuhan being repository of 15,000 viruses. Little wonder then Bill Gates is soft-pedaling for China that it “did lot of things right” and its criticism is a “distraction” – it money all the way. Trump will find the issue far more complex than China’s biang-biang noodles.
Prakash Katoch is third generation army officer hailing from Himachal Pradesh. He is former Lieutenant General from Special Forces and post-retirement has published over 2100 articles on international affairs, geopolitics, military, security, technical and topical issues besides authoring two books. He is active in seminars at both national and international levels.