Chinese Communist Party Hints Italy Could Be Origin of Wuhan Virus

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian speaks at the daily media briefing in Beijing on April 8, 2020. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)
GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has jumped on a medical study that suggested the Wuhan virus was present in Italy as early as September to hint that the European nation was the epicentre of the virus rather than China.

A study published in the Italian cancer medical paper, the Tumori Journal, claimed coronavirus antibodies were found in blood samples from cancer screenings carried out in September of last year in Italy, indicating that there may have been coronavirus contact earlier than first believed.

One of the experts involved in the study, Giovanni Apolone, at Milan’s National Cancer Institute, was clear in an interview with the Times of London that the study does not rule out China as the originator of the virus.

“We know that China delayed announcing its outbreak so there is no telling when it started there, and China has very strong commercial links with northern Italy,” Apolone said.

The dictatorship in Beijing was quick to seize upon the study, however, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, suggesting that the virus may have originated outside of China.

“This once again shows that tracing the virus’s source is a complex scientific question that should be left to scientists. [It] is a developing process that can involve multiple countries,” Mr Zhao said.

The CCP has previously accused the U.S. military of spreading the virus and claimed that Spain was the original epicentre of the coronavirus. Spain and Italy saw the widest outbreaks of the Chinese coronavirus during the initial phases of the pandemic in the spring.

Right-wing populist Italian Senator Matteo Salvini blasted the latest claims from China, writing on social media: “INCREDIBLE. Now China identifies Italy as the place of origin of Covid!!! Between lies, secrets and delays, the Chinese Communist dictatorship with its Virus has caused the world incalculable damage.”

“They should be obliged to pay infinite compensation, rather than accusing the Italians of being the infectors!” Salvini added.

The Italian study was criticised by international scientists, including a virologist at the Texas A&M University-Texarkana, Benjamin Neuman, who questioned the ability of the oncologists to understand viruses.

“Scientists are generally only expert in a narrow field,” Neuman, adding: “Likely the peer review would have been carried out by reviewers and editors familiar in some aspect of cancer biology, but not virus research.”

China has long been accused of trying to cover-up the outbreak in Wuhan, with a May report from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States saying that the communist regime “disappeared” whistle-blowing doctors.

The report went on to detail the CCP’s efforts to censor news about the outbreak, as well as destroying samples of the virus in laboratories and their refusal to hand over samples to international scientists, which the dossier credited with delaying a cure to the virus.

More recently, the Chinese government indicted a Shanghai-based citizen journalist, Zhang Zhan, for allegedly spreading “false information” about the virus in her reports from Wuhan earlier this year.

Zhang was accused of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge that is often used to silence political dissidents in China and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The communist party controlled justice system has a 99 per cent conviction rate, a fact that is often decried by international human rights advocates.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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