As Jazz pointed out yesterday, Sec. of State Blinken told Axios he was determined to uncover the truth about the origin of the coronavirus. He also echoed what appears to be an administration talking point about how uncovering the truth was in China’s best interest. But Aaron Blake has a piece at the Post which points out how hollow those assurances really are. In fact, no one in the Biden administration seems to have an answer for the next, obvious question: What do you do if China decides its interests are in covering up the truth? That’s the question that was put to Dr. Fauci last week.
Top government infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci was pressed on this Thursday on MSNBC. When he said that “it’s obviously in China’s interests to find out exactly” how the virus came about, Willie Geist logically followed up with a counterpoint: Isn’t it also in their interest to conceal that information “if there was a lab leak — or worse?”
“I don’t want to be speculating on that, because every time I say something like that, you know it as well as I, it will get completely taken out of context, and go into the Twitter world like crazy,” Fauci said. “So, I mean, I’m going to leave that to other people and not surmise and guess who’s interest it is. It’s not helpful.”
With that non-answer in mind, let’s circle back (as Jen Psaki might say) to Sec. Blinken’s answer about the importance of getting transparency from China. You really need to watch this clip to appreciate it. It’s only 2 minutes long. The first minute is spent with Blinken saying repeatedly how critical it is that we get this information from China. We “have to have” this information Blinken said. And then, like Fauci, he’s asked the obvious question: “So what’s the real pressure the US will put on China for access to the lab?” Sec. Blinken gives a great impersonation of a deer in headlights.
All he can really say is the talking point about this being in China’s interest. But of course it’s not remotely in China’s interest to reveal anything about a possible lab leak or shady military research taking place at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Aaron Blake, the author of the Post piece suggests that maybe this is a reference to some pressure the Biden administration is bringing on China behind the scenes, pressure the general public doesn’t know about. But what pressure could the US possibly bring that would be worse than admitting the worst case scenario, i.e. China was doing research with this virus and it accidentally got out and killed millions of people. China has been on a year-long PR mission to present itself and Xi Jinping as heroes of the pandemic. What would it actually take for them to abandon all of that?
I can only think of one thing that might fit that bill: a high-level defector threatening to spill Chinese secrets in public. Short of that there’s just no way China is going to reverse course on a cover up of anything related to this virus. Blinken and Fauci and the rest of the administration’s spokespeople are making promises about getting to the bottom of the origin of COVID that they know they can’t deliver on. They can’t even offer a plausible explanation of how it could happen at this point.
Unless we’ve got that defector on hand or the CIA is still sitting on a smoking gun of some sort, we’re not going to get anything else out of China. So why is the Biden administration talking as if it could happen? They seem to be setting expectations for their own failure.