Manufacturing consent: What really happened in Wuhan?
Updated 12:36, 25-Sep-2021
Keith Lamb
The Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, June 24, 2021. /Getty

The Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, June 24, 2021. /Getty

Editor's note: Keith Lamb is a University of Oxford graduate with an MSc degree in Contemporary Chinese Studies. His primary research interests are China's international relations and "socialism with Chinese characteristics." The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

"What Really Happened in Wuhan" is a special report, recently aired by Sky TV. Its central claim is that the coronavirus, due to a lab leak, came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Running throughout this report is that it seeks to "uncover the truth" vis-à-vis China, which stands as a bad actor out to deceive the world.

Firstly, before dealing with the specifics of this report, the claim of a "heroic free liberal media" fighting undemocratic state power must be nipped in the bud. Sky being controlled by the transnational media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is, in fact, the antithesis of any such touted freedom and democracy. Indeed, the Murdoch empire, which spans across the U.S., Australia and the UK (AUKUS), whipped up support for both the undemocratic invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, which could never have been carried out without a tsunami of disinformation.

As such, considering China is the new focus of transnational liberal disinformation and limits the power of undemocratic monopoly capital, which Sky represents, one must be skeptical of any narrative that sets a "free media" controlled by an oligarch, whose interests are for profit against China, whose interests are for socialist progress.

With this in mind, the specific claims made by the report are somewhat confusing in part because they largely arise from opinions rather than scientific evidence: all scientific evidence being controlled by China can't be trusted, and even the World Health Organization (WHO), made up largely of Western funding, including that of Bill Gates, and full of Western cadres, for the same reason, cannot be trusted.

In contrast, former U.S. President Donald Trump and former Secretaries of State Mike Pompeo, who both star in the report, are now trustworthy actors. Trump's "evidence" that the virus emanated from the Wuhan lab boils down to "common sense" but he's hard-pressed to give specific scientific evidence. I would suggest, to the former president, that "common sense" often boils down to creating a consensus through the media. For example, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were both "common sense" after indoctrination too.

Pompeo believes there is "enormous evidence" to support the lab-leak thesis going back to the summer. However, is he aware that there is scientific evidence that traces the coronavirus back to the North of Italy, in the region where a cluster of U.S. army bases are located?

Then there are the widely reported "mysterious vaping deaths" and flu symptoms in the U.S., wiping out elderly care homes around the American military base Fort Detrick, which is postulated as another source of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Sky report is full of speculation. For example, Wei Jingsheng, who is introduced as a top-level whistleblower, bizarrely claims with zero evidence that he got secret information from an unknown source that China purposely spread the virus at the Wuhan Military World Games in October 2019. To be fair, the report doesn't dwindle long on this claim and even Trump dismisses it. Nevertheless, despite lacking scientific evidence the claim stays in for the purpose of creating a negative consensus towards China.

Within the report, there are some concrete claims about the scientific ongoings of the Wuhan lab. For example, it is claimed that Shi Zhengli, a leading Chinese virologist working at the lab who collected bat viruses and brought them back to Wuhan, has to take the blame for the coronavirus lab leak. It is speculated that one virus RaTG13, which is said to be 96.2 percent similar to the COVID-19 virus, could have been used to create the latter.

Virologist Shi Zhengli (L) works with her colleague in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Februray 23, 2017. /Getty

Virologist Shi Zhengli (L) works with her colleague in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Februray 23, 2017. /Getty

However, this 3.8-percent difference is actually large. A report in Science magazine states that "more than 1,100 nucleotides, the building blocks of RNA, separate the genomes of the two viruses, and the differences are scattered in a way that doesn't suggest deliberate engineering."

Furthermore, the Sky report links three workers who died in 2012 from a respiratory disease, when clearing bat feces from a mine. However, the report in Science magazine reveals that the workers' blood was tested and there was no sign of coronavirus or antibodies to it. In addition, there is a huge scientific body outside China who dismiss the lab leak theory though, of course, we are to incredulously believe that they are all under China's control.

Unfortunately, much of the Sky report is "opinionated evidence" and is given under the cover that "it's top secret and so can't be revealed." This excuse, we have all heard many times before as "expert" reassurance before war. The fact is, more hard scientific evidence would be needed for the Sky report to be credible. However, the purpose of the report is less about truth and more about creating an anti-China consensus in the general populace. This is even more obvious considering the Wuhan lab is heavily funded by the U.S. government. Consequently, even if the thesis of the Sky report were true, blame becomes largely a matter of subjective construction.

Clearly, in a post-Afghanistan world, Western monopoly capital needs a new war which requires the wholesale manufacturing of consent. As such, Westerners must be cognizant that an anti-China consensus is, by hook and crook, being built by transnational liberal capital and their state managers.

The blatant false claims of a Chinese genocide and slavery are more than enough to highlight this truth. Thus, the "blame China for COVID-19" serves as just another smokescreen for manufacturing this belligerent consent.

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