The U.S. federal government should have stopped funding research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2015 when China reduced its cooperation with the French in building and operating the lab, according to the leader of an investigation into COVID-19’s origins by the State Department under the Trump administration.
In 2015, French intelligence officials warned the U.S. State Department and their own foreign ministry that China was cutting back on agreed collaboration at the lab, former State Department official David Asher, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
By 2017, the French “were kicked out” of the lab and cooperation ceased, leading French officials to warn the State Department that they had grave concerns as to Chinese motivations, according to Asher.
The State Department alleged in January 2021, at the end of the Trump administration, that the Wuhan lab had engaged in classified research on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.
The State Department did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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On Thursday, China said it would not allow the World Health Organization to inspect the lab further. China has blocked the World Health Organization from accessing important records at the lab.
“The Chinese basically sucked State into its honey pot operation to gain access to U.S. technology, knowledge, and material support. Classic. Just as they have done in every sector,” Asher said.
Between October 2009 and May 2019, the U.S. Agency for International Development provided $1.1 million to the U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance for a sub-agreement with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to U.S. Agency for International Development.
EcoHealth Alliance also received funding from the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency that was subcontracted to the Wuhan lab, New York magazine reported. National Institutes of Health grants to EcoHealth Alliance totaling $600,000 between 2014 and 2019 were subcontracted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The National Institutes of Health, Defense Department, and U.S. Agency for International Development should have stopped sending U.S. federal funding to the Wuhan lab back when the French warned the State Department in 2015, Asher said.
State Department officials “in charge of nonproliferation should have shut down all cooperation,” he added.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is at the center of speculation that COVID-19 may have originated from a lab accident, was initiated in 2004 as a joint project between France and China.
France provided the lab’s design, biosafety training, and much of its technology.
The French envisioned the Wuhan institute as an open and transparent lab that would serve the global scientific community in studying potential pandemics, according to a State Department cable in April 2018, citing a Wuhan-based French consulate official who worked on science and technology cooperation with China.
While top French politicians supported the collaboration, French security and defense experts did not, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that the Covid pandemic was likely the result of a laboratory leak in China, providing the first public confirmation of the bureau’s classified judgment of how the virus that led to the deaths of nearly seven million people worldwide first emerged.
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