China and Pakistan, the all-weather friends, have entered a three-year deal to expand potential bio-warfare capabilities against India, including several research projects related to the deadly agent anthrax. The deal has been inked between Wuhan Institute of Virology and Pakistan military's Defense Science and Technology Organisation (DESTO) to collaborate research in "emerging infectious diseases" and advance studies on the biological control of transmitted diseases. It is pertinent to mention that China has been criticized for handling of coronavirus pandemic with speculations that the disease could have emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
What we know about the covert deal
- India TV has learned that the program is entirely funded by China and is formally titled -- Collaboration for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Studies on Biological Control of Vector Transmitting Diseases.
- China is testing biological agents outside its borders (in Pakistan) in an apparent bid to minimize the risk of drawing condemnation from the international community.
- DESTO has been engaged in various dual-use research projects related to anthrax under a covert biological weapons program. The covert China-Pakistan project has conducted “successful soil sampling tests” to isolate Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT), which has a striking similarity to Bacillus Anthracis – or anthrax.
- The Wuhan lab was providing extensive training on the manipulation of pathogens and bio-informatics to Pakistani scientists “to help Pakistan develop its own virus collection database”.
- The secret project was detached from the supervision of civilian universities or government health departments in Pakistan and was structured so as to allow “unspecified” future operations.
- China’s keen interest in the project is driven chiefly by its agenda to engage Pakistan against India and to conduct potentially dangerous experiments on foreign soil, without subjecting its own land and people to risk.
- The plan was part of a move by Beijing to designate Pakistan a destination for hazardous biochemical research while evading use of its own territory for such activities, which stand the risk of drawing criticism and condemnation from the international community.
- The China-Pakistan biological project had already undertaken experiments on the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus (CCHFV). CCHFV is a rapid-onset fever virus that causes death in about 25% of cases and is similar to the Ebola virus.CCHFV is categorized as a “class-4” microorganism – the highest possible risk category.
- Pakistan is allegedly carrying out tests on CCHFV in laboratories that are not equipped to handle Bio-Safety Level-4 diseases.
- There were concerns the Kunming facility, which is controlled by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, was also handling class-4 diseases without proper protections.