Chinese vice-minister of State Security, Dong Jingwei, reportedly defected to the US and gave the information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is at the center of COVID-19 lab leak theory. According to a SpyTalk report, which is a newsletter covering US intelligence, defense, and foreign policy, Chinese-language anti-community media and Twitter are abuzz with rumors that Dong fled to the United States via Hong Kong with his daughter, Dong Yang mid-February. The top Chinese official is believed to have given Washington information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology that changed the stance of the Biden administration concerning the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports, Dong is, or was, a longtime official in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) – also known as the Guoanbu. His publicly available background indicates that he was also responsible for the Ministry’s counterintelligence efforts in China since being promoted to vice minister in April 2018. Now, if the rumours are true, Dong’s defection to the US would be the highest level-defection in the history of the People’s Republic of China.
Han Lianchao, who is a former Chinese foreign ministry official, who defected after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, informed that the issue of Dong’s defection was raised by Chinese officials at the Sino-American summit in Alaska. While talking to Twitter, Han cited an unnamed source and alleged that China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and Communist party foreign affairs boss Yang Jiechi demanded that the Americans return Dong, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken refused. He said that if the rumor was true, “it is really a big bomb”.
However, it is imperative to know that several experts have reportedly said that unconfirmed reports of defections surface regularly. Former Pentagon, State Department and CIA expert, Nicholas Eftimiades, called the report “exactly what it is, a rumour”. Nicholas added that it happens all the time in the information warfare between Beijing and anti-communist overseas Chinese. Mollie Saltskog, a senior intelligence analyst with The Soufan Group, also urged caution and said that unconfirmed reports of defections surface regularly.
There has been mounting controversy over how the virus first emerged in humans – whether through contact with animals at a wet market in Wuhan or leakage from The Wuhan Institute of Virology – as some have suggested. As questions continue to be raised over the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US and Britain have also demanded the WHO to take a deeper look into the possible origins of COVID-19, including a new visit to China where the first human infections were detected. The demand to probe COVID-19 origin intensified after an undisclosed and controversial Wall Street report propelled conspiracies claiming three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sought hospital care after they fell sick in November 2019.