Chinese Critics Decry WHO’s Wuhan Probe as a ‘Farce’

Marion Koopmans, right, and Peter Ben Embarek, center, of the World Health Organization team say farewell to their Chinese counterpart Liang Wannian, left, after a WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference held at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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BY EVA FU

A Chinese dissident has condemned the World Health Organization’s findings on the source of the pandemic as a “farce,” adding that the Chinese regime is likely to leverage them to deflect responsibility for causing the global crisis.

According to Yuan Hongbing, a Chinese academic and vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) living in Australia, the WHO investigation in Wuhan was akin to “a farce staged by the Chinese regime.”

“We could have predicted that this so-called investigation would come to this,” he said in an interview.

As a team of experts at the WHO wrapped up its trip on Feb. 9, Peter Ben Embarek, a Danish scientist who led the WHO mission, dismissed the theory that the CCP virus may have leaked from a virology lab as “extremely unlikely.” Bats, he said, remained a likely source.

The State Department has cast doubt on the amount of transparency afforded to the WHO team and said that the United States would present its conclusion after reviewing the full WHO report.

Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” described Embarek’s comments as “intensely political.”

“This mission to Wuhan is heavily negotiated with conditions that were really essentially designed so they are not going to find out anything,” Chang told The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program.

“They are there for a month, two weeks of which are quarantine, and they go to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for three-and-a-half hours,” he said. The team visited the lab on Feb. 3.

“I don’t know how WHO members can say that after such a cursory examination.”

The wet market went through a thorough cleansing in March 2020, destroying all the livestock and goods stored inside. Zhang Meng (alias), a volunteer who helped with the cleanout, said that they stripped everything bare during the process.

“Nothing was left save the metal board,” he said in a recent interview, adding that the WHO team had nothing to see there. “Everything was gone in a sweep.”

Workers place barriers outside the closed Huanan Seafood wholesale market during a visit by members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team, investigating the origins of the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Wuhan, China’s central Hubei province on Jan. 31, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Chang also criticized Embarek for lending credibility to the idea that the virus could have been imported via frozen foods to the Wuhan wet market, where the first known cluster of cases emerged in December 2019. The investigator said transmission of the virus via frozen food is a possibility that warrants further investigation.

Chinese authorities have attributed local COVID-19 outbreaks to imported frozen foods, despite the WHO and U.S. health officials both saying there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging.

“Experts will tell you that yes, the coronavirus can survive on frozen food packaging, but nobody in any responsible position outside China thinks that it was a likely source of transmission,” Chang said.

“This is a parroting of a Beijing narrative,” he said. “This just shows you that the WHO mission is completely worthless—actually is worse than worthless because it’s throwing people off the trail.”

The Trump administration last year began the process to withdraw from the WHO, as the agency was criticized for repeating Beijing’s narratives about the outbreak. President Joe Biden, upon taking office, reversed the decision and restored WHO ties on Jan. 20.

Peter Ben Embarek, of the World Health Organization team, right, shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Liang Wannian after a WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference held at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Feb. 9 also questioned WHO’s findings, saying he doesn’t believe “they [experts] got access that they needed.”

“I must say the reason we left the World Health Organization was because we came to believe that it was corrupted, it had been politicized. It was bending a knee to General Secretary Xi Jinping in China,” he said in a Fox interview. He said the WHO announcement has not shaken his belief that “there’s significant evidence … that this [virus] may have very well come from that laboratory.”

Days before Pompeo left office, the State Department released a fact sheet stating that it had reason to believe several researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology exhibited COVID-19-like symptoms in autumn 2019, despite a senior facility virologist saying otherwise.

Matt Pottinger, the former deputy national security adviser, later called for more attention to the fact sheet, which he said was “very carefully vetted” by officials across the Department of Health and Human Services, White House, and intelligence leadership.

Peter Daszak, a U.S. scientist on the WHO team, has co-written papers with Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan virology lab. He previously condemned the lab escape theory as a “conspiracy,” but later conceded that he did so “as a showing of support” for Chinese scientists to shield them from “online harassment.”

In a tweet on Feb. 9 in response to the State Department’s comments, Dazsak said that Biden “has to look tough on China.” “Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump [and] frankly wrong on many aspects,” he wrote.

Heng He, a China affairs commentator, said that Daszak’s involvement in the research constituted a conflict of interest.

“Why did the WHO recuse him?” he said. “This is basically signaling to the CCP that the WHO will go along with its play.”

He also noted the WHO’s visit to a propaganda exhibition touting Beijing’s achievements in combating the virus. “It doesn’t even count as fourth-hand evidence,” he said. “Just purely man-made stories.”

Cathy He contributed to this report.

Follow Eva on Twitter: @EvaSailEast
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