During Meeting on Coronavirus Outbreak, Chinese Leader Mandates Lab Safety Be Considered ‘National Security’ Issue

February 17, 2020 Updated: February 17, 2020
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in a recent speech that lab biosafety should be treated as a national security issue, leading China’s Science and Technology Ministry to announce new safety regulations within laboratories that study viruses, according to reports by a state-run media outlet.

Xi hosted a political meeting about enacting reforms, in Beijing on Feb. 14, according to Sciencenet.cn, a science and technology news site.

At the meeting, Xi spoke about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19. He asserted that the government must stop the epidemic and set up a system to prevent similar outbreaks in the future, according to the report.

“In order to protect people’s health,” biosafety should be “integrated into national security,” biosecurity laws should be drafted, and a national system to control biosecurity risks should be set up, Xi said.

The next day, the Science and Technology Ministry rolled out new regulations via a document titled “Guiding opinions on strengthening biosecurity management in microbiology labs that handle advanced viruses at the same level as the new coronavirus.”

The report didn’t offer details, but mentioned the regulations would focus on the management of viruses.

“Xi’s words, as well as the new regulations, indicate that biosecurity management in China is chaotic,” Tang Jingyuan, a U.S.-based China affairs commentator, said in an interview with The Epoch Times.

Since the outbreak first began in Wuhan City, in Hubei Province, Chinese officials have said they believe the virus is linked to the Huanan Seafood Market, where a variety of wild animals are sold.

But according to a recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet, 14 of the first 41 confirmed cases in Wuhan weren’t exposed to the Huanan market.

Some scientists have analyzed the genome sequence of the virus and found unusual features, such as sequences similar to the HIV virus.

Health officials from the United States and other countries have expressed their desire to visit China and investigate the origin of COVID-19.

“From its behaviors in the past weeks, the Chinese government has tried to convince the public that the COVID-19 is from nature. But with pressure from the international community, it will gradually tell the public some truths,” Tang said.