weaponizing COVID-19: Australian media slammed for twisting open book as ‘evidence’ of ‘China

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The Australian newspaper recently quoted a Chinese book that is openly on sale as a “leaked” exclusive document, in an embarrassing article that smears China over the origins of COVID-19, twisting the book’s contents to support its own conspiracy theory that China was engaged in weaponizing the novel coronavirus several years before the pandemic.

Chinese netizens and experts slammed the newspaper for losing its professional ethics by drawing any possible clues to back its own political narrative.

Quoting a so-called leaked document obtained by the US State Department, The Australian claimed China had been probing whether it could weaponize the coronavirus five years before the COVD-19 pandemic, and even took the document as evidence of China’s interest in bioweapons.

Yet, the Global Times found the leaked document mentioned by The Australian was a book titled The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapon. It was published by military doctor Xu Dezhong in 2015 and is on sale on Amazon, although it is out of stock. The book suggests that SARS epidemic during 2002 and 2004 in China originated through an unnatural way of genetic modification originating from abroad.

An academic book that explores bioterrorism and possibilities of viruses being used in warfare was interpreted as a conspiracy theory by The Australian, which deliberately and malignantly intends to invent pretexts to smear China, Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

It is a shame for anti-China forces in Australia to back their own ideology against China at the expense of basic professional journalistic ethics, conspiring to twist the real meaning of the book, Chen said.

The book alleges with evidence how biological weapons labs abroad successfully transferred the virus to civets or other mammals, and how the animals were brought into markets in southern China at the time. The subject and core argument of the book is nothing like the report by The Australian claiming China was weaponizing the SARS virus five years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The book’s author pointed out the noticeable facts that the infected cases at the time were concentrated in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, and the island of Taiwan. Other cases were concentrated in countries and regions where Chinese nationals and their descendants lived. More cases showed that among 15 deaths out of the virus in Canada, 13 were Chinese people. “Conspiracies cannot be ruled out that terrorists abroad were developing contemporary genetic weapons to fight against China,” Xu wrote in the book.

In another claim by The Australian, the idea of Xu’s book suggested a use of biological weapons for a predicted third world war. The idea, however, was only an objective enumeration which listed a series of countries developing biological weapons including the US, for the past few years.

“The US began its bioweapons research in 1941, after which a great scale of study fields and production plants were built,” reads chapter two of the book, “during 1940 and 1945, Japan invaded China with the use of bioweapons and caused a plague in East China’s Zhejiang Province and Central China’s Hunan Province.”

In the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, theories also exist that the novel coronavirus may have originated at a US military research institute at Fort Detrick. Chinese experts have been calling for a probe into the US’ mysterious bio-labs in order to better understand coronavirus origins, and Russian officials said the US is developing biological weapons in those labs.

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