New Delhi/Beijing: Under the garb of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology and Pakistan Army’s Defense Science & Technology Organization are conducting experiments on deadly pathogens to expand potential bio-warfare capabilities.
An Australian investigative media group The Klaxon, in an exclusive report in August this year, revealed that the two countries have been carrying out extensive research operations on deadly ‘animal to human’ pathogens in Pakistan involving more than 7000 Pakistani farmers, herders and others and over 2800 camels and other animals.
The Wuhan scientists have been conducting tests in collaboration with Rawalpindi in Pakistan since 2015, the Klaxon reported. The programme is funded by China under Xi’s ambitious BRI project.
The results of at least five studies conducted on some of the world’s deadliest and most contagious pathogens — West Nile Virus; MERS-Coronavirus; Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus; the Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus; and the Chikungunya Virus — have been published in scientific papers between December 2017 and March 9, 2020.
The China-Pakistan research involves experiments and genome sequencing of the deadly viruses. One of the studies thanked Wuhan’s National Virus Resource Centre for “providing the virus-infected Vero cells”.
In its comprehensive investigative report, the Klaxon reported that each of the five studies stated it was “supported” by the “International Cooperation on Key Technologies of Biosafety along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”.
The Klaxon said “international cooperation on key technologies program” has not been formally announced, and the only public references to it appear to be in the acknowledgements sections inside the five scientific papers it obtained.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, is the flagship component of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure programme, both of which were announced in 2015.
“The Belt and Road program has been widely criticised as being a veil for Chinese colonial expansion, which lumps poor countries with unsustainable amounts of debt and so undermining their sovereignty, enabling China to exert control and influence over them,” the Klaxon reported.