TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In an interview with CBS on Sunday (Feb. 21), former Deputy National Security Advisor (DNSA) Mathew Pottinger said the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had been carrying out experiments in Wuhan for years and tried to cover up the COVID-19 outbreak.
In an episode of "Face the Nation" that aired on Sunday, when the show's host Margaret Brennan asked Pottinger if he was alleging that the pandemic had started from a lab leak in Wuhan, Pottinger said that based on the circumstantial evidence the "ledger on the side of an explanation that says that this resulted from some kind of human error," far outweighs the side of the scale that would point to a natural outbreak.
Pottinger said that U.S. intelligence sources have strong reason to believe that the "Chinese military was doing secret classified animal experiments in that same laboratory [Wuhan Institute of Virology]" as early as 2017. He added that there is "good reason to believe" that an outbreak of a "flu-like illness" had occurred among the scientists in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in the fall of 2019, just before the first cases of a new type of pneumonia were being reported in Wuhan.
When asked if there was evidence that a COVID-like disease was already being transmitted in the fall of 2019, Pottinger said "There is." He emphasized that a State Department fact sheet released on Jan. 15 was meant to make the case for further investigation into the WIV's activities leading up to the outbreak in the city.
The statement pointed out that although the WIV bills itself as a "civilian institution," U.S. intelligence has determined that the lab has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. It went on to allege that the lab has undertaken "classified research, including laboratory animal experiments," on behalf of the PLA since 2017.
When asked why the U.S. health officials or U.S. intelligence did not know about the outbreak sooner, he said that the U.S. was too reliant on China's CDC. However, he said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) put the PLA in charge of handling the outbreak in Wuhan.
The former security advisor claimed that China's CDC was left in the dark and that even the center's director "did not know this thing was circulating until the last day of December." He concluded that the Chinese CDC had been left out of the loop as the PLA tried to "cover this thing up, to try to contain it until it was too late."
After the scope of the global disaster become more apparent in April, Pottinger said he sought advice from senior officials in Taiwan on how to deal contain the virus. He then asked if they had any facemasks available and the Taiwan government then swiftly sent 500,000 masks.
Pottinger said that the majority of the masks were placed in the national stockpile to be used by frontline healthcare staff. He also directed a box to be delivered to the White House, where it was distributed through the NSC and White House medical unit.
By May 11, key figures in the White House were seen wearing "Made in Taiwan" masks at a press conference in the Rose Garden for the first time that day. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner were all spotted wearing surgical masks with the label "Made in Taiwan" clearly visible on the lower-left corner.