Will high-ranking Chinese defector shed light on COVID origin?

“We could soon find out whether Covid really started in the Wuhan lab. And much, much more,” said a BBC foreign affairs correspondent.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As rumors swirl that Chinese State Security vice minister Dong Jingwei has defected to the US, some commentators have suggested that the high-ranking figure could shed light on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spy Talk magazine reported that Jingwei fled to the US via Hong Kong with his daughter in February. If the rumors are true, he would be the highest ranking Chinese government official to ever defect.

Adding to speculation is that Jingwei has not been seen in public in China in months. Local publication the South China Morning Post published a photograph of a person that looks dramatically different from Jingwei, claiming in the caption that it was Jingwei.

The article sparked widespread response on social media, with people asking why the Chinese government was presenting an impostor as Jingwei.

BBC foreign affairs correspondent John Simpson said that if Jinwei had really defected, “We could soon find out whether Covid really started in the Wuhan lab. And much, much more.”

Jingwei is reported to possess intelligence on a number of critical areas, including financial records on pathogen research that took place in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, early studies of the virus, and even predictions about how the virus could spread and potential global damage.

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The Chinese government’s refusal to allow a proper third-party investigation has cast doubt on its claim that the virus was passed naturally from animals to humans, and possibly originated in a wet market in Wuhan.

In late January 2021, a team of investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) were only allowed to investigate for three hours at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and reported that they were denied access to documentation and other key data which they needed to review.

WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Chinese government had been uncooperative and that the investigation was inconclusive.

He noted that some 175 million people had been infected with the virus, and 3.8 million had died. Considering the sheer number of people affected by the disease, a full and transparent investigation is critical, he said.

“I think the respect these people deserve is knowing what the origin of this virus is so that we can prevent it from happening again,” said Ghebreyesus.