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US biolabs a clear and present danger: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2022-03-13 19:11
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People walk on Times Square in New York, the United States, Nov 23, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

According to a Russian news release on Thursday, United States-funded biological laboratories in Ukraine are actively cooperating with the US military on biological research programs.

According to the news release, experts of the Russian Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Force found evidence that the laboratories had been working with dangerous pathogens such as anthrax, the plague and Malta fever among others as well as carrying out experiments using bat coronavirus samples.

The US of course has called the claims "preposterous" and said the labs conduct peaceful scientific research and disease surveillance programs, and do not run covert biological weapons programs. But if that is the case why are these labs funded by the Department of Defense?

The US has 336 biological labs in 30 countries worldwide and claims they run programs aimed at reducing bio-security risks and strengthening global public health. But if they are for enhanced bio-security, bio-safety and bio-surveillance as it claims then it should not have any problem revealing what pathogens they are studying, and where.

Just like Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, said, the US always advocates transparency, if the claims have been fabricated by Russia and the research is above board then the US should have no problem giving a clear account of the activities of its biolabs both at home and abroad.

According to Ned Price, the spokesman for US State Department, "The United States does not own or operate any chemical or biological laboratories in Ukraine, it is in full compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention, and it does not develop or possess such weapons anywhere."

Yet, as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, the US is the sole state party to have chemical weapons. The international community has repeatedly asked the US to complete the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles. However, the US has twice missed the deadline for destruction.

The US has also been standing alone for the past 20 years in opposing a legally binding Protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention to establish a verification mechanism for compliance.

It's hard to imagine how US politicians can have the gall to call for "origin-tracing" of COVID-19 in China, alleging that the novel coronavirus leaked from a lab in China. But the possibility that the US has been engaging in military funded biological research programs in Ukraine, including studies on bat coronaviruses, does offer some food for thought. Perhaps these US politicians have been trying to deflect attention from where it should be directed — at one of the US' many biolabs.

The US should stop pointing fingers of blame at others and instead give a clear account of its bio-military activities both at home and abroad, and accept multilateral verification and complete the destruction of all its chemical weapons as soon as possible.

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