China, Russia urge U.S. to clarify its military biological activities

By Zhong Sheng, People’s Daily

In a joint statement released Thursday by the two nations’ foreign ministers, China and Russia expressed grave worry about U.S. military biological activities.

According to the statement, U.S. military biological activities pose a severe threat to the national security of the Russian Federation and China and are detrimental to the security of relevant regions.

The two sides urged the U.S. to behave in an open, transparent, and responsible manner by informing properly on its military biological activities conducted overseas and on its national territory, according to the statement.

In the joint statement, China and Russia reaffirm their conviction that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) is critical for the international peace and security, and their determination to safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the Convention.

The statement has sent a clear political signal that the international community will not stand by while the U.S. carries military biological activities.

U.S. military biological activities have always drawn huge attention from the international society. The U.S., As a country with the most advanced biological technologies and the most powerful military, has continued the development plan of biological weapons of the Japanese Unit 731 and kept on biological weapon development even after joining the BWC. That is why the Fort Detrick base is called the “center of the U.S. government’s darkest experiments.”

Apart from that, the U.S. military has stationed over 200 biological laboratories outside the U.S. national territory, causing widespread outrage. The recent lawsuit filed by a South Korean civic group against the U.S. Forces Korea over U.S. military biological activities serves as the best example.

This August, the Chinese government formally requested the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch an investigation into the Fort Detrick base, and listed multiple doubtful points about the base in a document. All of these doubtful points came from publicly available documents, media reports and academic papers, and the concealed facts would be only more astounding.

The BWC is the best touchstone. Once a verification mechanism is in place, it would be quite obvious who’s abiding by the Convention and who’s not. However, the U.S., who’s highly suspicious, has consistently been refusing such verification. In 2001, after seven years of arduous negotiations and when the international society was about to reach a consensus on a legally binding protocol to the Convention that included a verification regime, the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from this process, claiming that biological activities are not verifiable technically. Over the past 20 years, the U.S. has always been opposing to restart negotiation, which significantly undermined the effectiveness and authoritativeness of the BWC.

Over 100 countries, including China and Russia, requested to restart negotiations for the protocol during the BWC meetings held in early September this year so as to establish the verification mechanism as early as possible. Washington, on the other hand, was still standing against the international society. It even referred to the international community’s consensus as “recycling” and called the international community’s legitimate concerns over U.S. bio-military activities “disinformation”. What the U.S. did has only triggered more doubts and concerns of the international society.

What’s more ironic is that the U.S. is avoiding verification on the one hand while taking COVID-19 origin tracing as a political tool against China on the other. The experts of the WHO have previously concluded that a lab leakage in Wuhan is extremely unlikely, but the U.S. is still arbitrarily hyping the so-called “lab leak theory.”

It is a classic example of the American double standard. If biological activities are really not verifiable technically, then the U.S.-requested origin tracing investigation into China would be nothing but political hijacking. If biological activities are verifiable, then there is no reason for the U.S. to refuse to establish the verification mechanism or avoid verification.

Major countries shall fulfill major country responsibilities, practice genuine multilateralism, and set an example of international law observance. U.S. military biological activities are a major issue concerning international peace and security, as well as the security interests of all countries. Therefore, Washington must respond to the concerns of the international community in a comprehensive manner.

Justice will always prevail. The joint statement is a solemn proclamation made by China and Russia that safeguarding the BWC is an obligation, and establishing the verification mechanism is inevitable. The issue of U.S. military biological activities must be solved.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)