OAN discovers that science is international!

Shock. Horror. The Chinese have been infiltrating and colonizing US scientific research programs!

Concern has continued to grow over China’s infiltration of American virus research labs after recent reports highlighted three Chinese military scientists trained by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who arrived at U.S. universities and research institutions in the late 90s only to later become involved in the COVID-19 saga.

They don’t say who is “concerned”, but this is the most trivial news. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with Chinese students, British students, Canadian scientists, German scientists, French scientists, Spanish scientists, Chilean scientists, Indian scientists… That’s the way it works. We don’t care about your borders. I’ve also had American colleagues who studied in the UK, the EU, Russia, where ever (I don’t know any who studied in China — the language barrier is a major obstacle, I think). Are we horrified if, for instance, someone studied infectious disease in Toronto and then takes a position at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center? Would that be an example of colonizing Canada to steal their precious medical expertise? It is, I guess, but there’s nothing nefarious about it. It’s routine.

On part of this, many believe China has colonized U.S. virus research programs. Important to mention is these programs are funded by the U.S. government or in other words — the U.S. taxpayer. There’s very little these U.S. virology programs do that China isn’t aware of and for many that’s a threat far too large to be ignored any longer.

Yes. We shouldn’t ignore it. We should encourage more of it. The free exchange of ideas assists the progress of science.

I have to note, though, that they use an evasive construct again: many believe. Who? It’s a sign of bad journalism when the writer plays this game. Name your sources, guy. I’m sure “many” would agree that we’ve trained many Chinese scientists (and scientists of many nationalities), but few would call that “colonization” or think it was a problem. China has a cadre of US-trained virologists? Yes, please. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re experiencing a pandemic, more will occur in the future, and we need more virologists.

Of course, OAN has an agenda. Wouldn’t you know it, they’re trying to suggest that COVID-19 is the product of hostile Chinese military research.

One Chinese whistleblower claimed COVID-19 originated in laboratories overseen by China’s PLA by using bat coronaviruses ZC-45 and ZXC-21, which were then characterized and genetically engineered under the supervision of the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing and the Research Institute for Medicine of the PLA Nanjing Military Command.

As of now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to confirm the origin of the virus. However, efforts to investigate have largely been obstructed.

Research into the origins of the virus has not been obstructed, unless by obstructed they mean that it fails to support the usual conspiracy theories. SARS-CoV-2 is not remarkably artificial at all — it is closely related to bat viruses, there is no discernable obstacle to their natural origin, and no evidence that they were manipulated in a lab. Novel variants have been popping up all over the place — do they think Chinese scientists around the world are tweaking the virus? (I shouldn’t say that, they might think that.)

Also, the Chinese military must be remarkably incompetent to have released their deadly engineered virus in China and disrupted their own economy, first.


  1. says

    We have many Chinese students at my school of public health. Biostatistics is probably the most popular discipline. It’s very alarming. They’ll be taking the secrets of mathematics back to China, where they may succeed in improving public health. It’s part of a plot by Hillary Clinton and the Rothschilds.

  2. mordred says

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t the results of university’s research published? What would be the point of spying?

  3. snarkrates says

    OAN is pretty much indistinguishable from Russia Today–they wank to anything that makes America weaker. It’s like Faux News without the frontal lobes.

  4. tfkreference says

    And we have scientists in China. One was called home before the pandemic. For reasons.

    American expert, Dr. Linda Quick, was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who were deployed to the epicenter of outbreaks to help track, investigate and contain diseases.

    As an American CDC employee, they said, Quick was in an ideal position to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the United States and other countries on the coronavirus outbreak, and might have alerted them to the growing threat weeks earlier.

  5. says

    @4 OAN and RT are similar. RT is aimed at BernieBro types to stoke their resentment at the Progressive establishment while OAN is trying to goad the right into favoring dictatorship over democracy.

  6. raven says

    There’s very little these U.S. virology programs do that China isn’t aware of and for many that’s a threat far too large to be ignored any longer.

    Half right.
    Almost all of US virology research programs are published in the scientific literature. The only way the Chinese would be unaware of US science research is if they can’t use a search engine like Google and can’t read.
    FWIW, anyone anywhere can also be aware of all US virology research without even leaving their house.

    The part about the threat is very dumb. There is no threat with scientific knowledge.
    The bigger threat by far is…ignorance. Reading OAN and taking it seriously is a far greater threat than medRxiv.
    OAN and the right wingnuts are just plague rats.

  7. raven says

    64 percent
    The dearth of Americans is even more pronounced in hot STEM fields like computer science, which serve as talent pipelines for the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft: About 64 percent of doctoral candidates and almost 68 percent in master’s programs last year were international students, according to an …Nov 3, 2017

    The Disappearing American Grad Student – The New York Times

    OAN is clueless, no surprise.
    The average STEM graduate student in the USA is..not from the USA.
    They are International students, mostly Asians and South Asians.
    Nothing new about this.
    It has been this way for at least 30 or 40 years.
    They have discovered something that was a fact before most people in the USA were even born.

  8. raven says

    OAN is made a discovery that isn’t a discovery, it is ancient history.

    In the 1980’s I visited a friend at a major research university in the US heartland.
    We walked around and I noticed that all the graduate students were…Chinese from Mainland China.
    This was right when China was opening to the world.
    I looked at him and said OK, why. We are in the middle of the continent and all the graduate students are from Red China.
    “It’s all we could get.”
    Being a biology graduate student is hard, 4-5 years for a Ph.D, with low pay if you can get it and uncertain job prospects.

    Without International students, US science would be in big trouble.

  9. jrkrideau says

    OAN is clueless, no surprise.
    The average STEM graduate student in the USA is..not from the USA.

    And if it manages to really stoke up a McCarthy level of paranoia, it has the potential to gut academic STEM research in the USA. Nothing like having a few foreign or foreign-born researchers arrested or hounded out of their institutions to persuade others that the fields are greener in another country.

  10. robro says

    As for the Wuhan Lab as the source of SARS-CoV-2, a WHO team has been investigating the question and their conclusion appears to be “wildlife farms” in Yunnan that supplied markets in the Wuhan area.

  11. PaulBC says

    Maybe they think their readers are that stupid. If more Americans wanted to do STEM, we would be less dependent on international students, professors, and entrepreneurs. As a nation, we’ve created a culture in which science and engineering are discouraged compared to careers in business and law. Those stereotypes have shifted since the 90s and tech is a little more cool, maybe, but nothing has shaken the sense of entitlement of middle class white Americans. You want to compete against strivers? Get off your ass and start striving. It’s that simple.

    I’ll admit I like how it is now. I studied computer science out of nerdy interest. The fact that I got to work with people from all around the world has just been a bonus, and in many ways it has been more valuable to me than the work itself.

    And what if the first generations from other nations are “colonizing” the Bay Area. That’s a good thing, right? At least they told me it was when I learned about the Mayflower back in grade school. These new “colonists” are here for opportunities, sometimes economic, but other times seeking freedom of conscience. They aren’t here intimidating us with flintlocks. They paid their way in and contribute a great deal to the local economy and nation as a whole.

  12. chris61 says

    I think the concern, if there is a concern, is not so much with the basic research but with the potential commercialization of the research. It’s the $$$.

  13. PaulBC says

    jrkrideau@12 I don’t have any statistics, but I would think that four years of Trump and the pandemic were already a gut punch to university departments that rely on international students. I remember the impact of Tiananmen Square when I was in grad school, though it seemed to be delayed by one year, but my department had accepted several students from China who were all no-shows. There were just fewer students that year. Recovery is also possible, but it has to start. My guess is that things are still getting worse and we may be realigned significantly once the pandemic is over and the world has a chance to open up again.

  14. KG says

    Also, the Chinese military must be remarkably incompetent to have released their deadly engineered virus in China and disrupted their own economy, first.

    Ah, ah – that’s just what they want you to think!! The cunning, cunning fiends!!!! They realised China would efficiently squash the epidemic, while many of their most profitable export markets deadly rivals would not!!

    Seriously, while there’s zero evidence that the virus was artificially produced, I believe the Chinese authorities have been less than open about the early stages of the pandemic, when they were punishing medics calling attention to it; and some Chinese commenters, presumably with official blessing, have themselves spread rumours about the origins of the virus being outwith China – of which there’s no good evidence – and even conspiracy theories about it being developed in an American lab.

  15. PaulBC says

    I am still trying to understand how COVID-19 can be both a hoax and a bioweapon. But I know there are others who have no trouble believing both, including some outspoken members of congress.

    The focus on China’s early missteps and secrecy made sense up to maybe mid-January of 2020. Since then, they have taken the threat seriously. They really did built massive field hospitals (there are videos) and apparently had it under control in Wuhan by around this time last year. I have some trouble believing the precise numbers, but if the percentages were anything near that approaching the US and Europe, there would be no way to hide it. My in-laws live in China, not Wuhan. They’re elderly and their lives are somewhat disrupted, but it has not been nearly the problem it is elsewhere, and I don’t think there is anyway to paint this as a success for us and a failure for China.

    (And no, I do not support Xi Jinping, who is one of the scariest people on earth right now, but that doesn’t mean I am going to pretend everything about his government is bad.)

  16. says

    I am still trying to understand how COVID-19 can be both a hoax and a bioweapon.

    I think it goes something like:

    China designed & released SARS-CoV-2 as a bioweapon, but it turns out the weapon wasn’t very deadly and we would have been fine if we had just kept the economy open & everyone interacting with everyone normally, without masks. Unfortunately the democrats fraudulently misrepresented the lethality of the virus to create an unsubstantiated panic that they could use for their own political ends.

    At least that’s how it goes in its most sophisticated and least internally contradictory form. I’m sure there are dingbats who haven’t even begun to wrestle with making sense of the bioweapon/hoax implications.

  17. Bruce says

    I think the facts raised by @#5 tfkreference may be due to Trump deciding not to pay for CDC staff in China. Using OAN-logic, that might mean that Trump pulled back American agents from China because Trump was a Chinese plant agent working to cover up China’s plan to attack itself and then all its customers. Trump should have attacked himself.

  18. unclefrogy says

    I am not amazed at any of this any more.
    The level of ignorance and gullibility seems to be endless, and the kinds of propaganda seem to be numberless as well.
    I had a discussion with a fellow a while back about STEM and his position was we did not need study science and engineering if we needed any expertise in those fields we could just hire them. well I guess that is a bad idea now.
    I was not aware as implied that science is supposed to be secret like the “Manhattan project”?
    sometimes I despair and think it would be better just to turn around and drop out, then I have a cup’a think a little keep going forward.
    uncle frogy

  19. jrkrideau says

    @ 16 PaulBC

    I don’t have any statistics either but IIRC I have seen some Chronicle of Higher Education articles suggesting that international enrollment is down in the US over the last 3–4 years. Unless the Biden administration makes big policy changes I can see more international students remaining at home or picking another country. Germany looks nice this year :).

    I am too lazy to track them down but there have been news articles about established/tenured faculty of Chinese origin being grilled by the FBI. I think I even remember a Chinese grad student taking refuge in a Chinese consulate in California because someone in the US govt decided she was PLA. She may have been or the FBI may have been misinterpreting the Chinese set-up. Various countries do things differently.

    I once met a former PLA officer and ex-CPC member who was just finishing his Ph.D at the Royal Military College of Canada. I would love to see the FBI evaluations on him.

  20. says

    @#7, Susan Montgomery:

    RT is aimed at BernieBro types to stoke their resentment at the Progressive establishment

    Okay, I have to know: who, exactly, are you claiming makes up a “progressive establishment”? I have a feeling I know, but I just want to confirm.

  21. says

    @23 The usual suspects, you know. People with realistic understandings of economics and the legislative processes and have a an understanding of the political mood and general intelligence of the electorate.

  22. jrkrideau says

    @ ‘8 PaulBC
    The focus on China’s early missteps and secrecy made sense up to maybe mid-January of 2020.

    I would disagree. Missteps almost surely but no more than any, probably underfunded, public health unit and a local administration who did not understand the significance of what they were being told could be expected to pull off.

    Secrecy from a scientific point of view, probably none. CYA actions by the local admin? Very likely , Beijing sent in a very high-powered flying squad and replaced the local admin though some of this may have been CYA in Beijing. In any case the new government had the authority to take drastic measures.

    It looks like Covid-19 cases were probably showing up in November 2019 but were rare enough that they were just assumed to be part of the normal flu season. It was not until very late in December, 2019-12-27, that enough cases showed up at the same time that a sharp diagnostician, Dr. Zhang Jixian, realised that she had a new disease on her hands.

    By 2020-01-01 the local Wuhan and China CDCs had done their work, confirmed the problem, and notified WHO that they had a novel and dangerous coronavirus on the loose. By 10 Jan 2020 Chinese researchers had posted the complete gene sequence on the internet and vaccineologists or what ever they are called could get to work around the world.

    The focus on China’s early missteps and secrecy makes very good sense if you need a scapegoat.

  23. John Morales says

    Vicar, are you attempting to suggest that there is no such thing as a “progressive establishment”?

  24. birgerjohansson says

    If you change it to “ONAN” it will reflect the masturbatory quality of whatever passes as news in the echo chamber.

  25. birgerjohansson says

    In addition, the flow of foreign students wanting to come to USA is not as huge as it used to be. Countries in the European Union, Canada and elsewhere are attracting more students, while the increasing hostility of US authorities to foreigners- from Dubya onwards- is a deterrent. So US universities do no longer have the pick of the best, not compared to pre-millennium.

  26. larpar says

    The best teaching assistant I ever had was a Chinese grad student in Biology.
    You could tell she was up to no good because she was nice and cared about her students.

  27. narendhur says

    Research into the origins of the virus has not been obstructed

    I’m no fan of OAN idiocy/paranoia, but it is indisputable that, even a year later, the origins of the virus have absolutely been obstructed.

    Unlike, say, SARS, we still have no idea where Covid came from, except some vague idea that it started in the “wet markets.”

    For it to have been “genetically engineered” seems quite a stretch, but why does it seem “paranoid” to think that the virus could have escaped from the Wuhan lab via simple incompetence, and then covered up. China would have a huge incentive to cover it up, for manifold reasons: of national pride, stability of the CCP government, and legal liability.

    China is so obstructionist that their working theory (if you can even call it that) is that the virus didn’t even originate in China: nope, it arrived via frozen meat from another [unknown] country.