Wuhan Institute of Virology Vice Director Revealed to Be CCP Official in Charge of Biosafety

Wuhan Institute of Virology Vice Director Revealed to Be CCP Official in Charge of Biosafety
The P4 laboratory on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on May 13, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Hans Mahncke
News Analysis
The vice director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Yuan Zhiming, is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official who was formally in charge of international cooperation and biosafety at the facility, according to a newly discovered email from 2013.
The institute is suspected by many to be the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
The email is part of a large number of documents unearthed by the transparency group U.S. Right to Know through ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation to uncover pandemic-related information held by U.S. institutions. Although the initial batch of documents was released in June, the email pertaining to Yuan, which was obtained from the Galveston National Laboratory, was only recently discovered by former Senate investigator Paul D. Thacker.
While it isn't a secret that every Chinese institution ultimately answers to the CCP, the discovery of Yuan’s true role as the CCP’s praetorian and biosafety minder at the Wuhan lab is highly significant.
The email obtained by U.S. Right to Know. (Screenshot/The Epoch Times)
The email obtained by U.S. Right to Know. (Screenshot/The Epoch Times)
Yuan’s academic biography doesn't mention his role as “Secretary of the Party Committee” at the WIV and the institute’s website doesn't provide information on the identity of the Secretary of the Party Committee. Publicly available information confirms that as of July 2021, Yuan was still a director at the WIV. Yuan claims to have previously worked at the Pasteur Institute in France, the Royal Danish University of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, the Danish National Institute of Environmental Research, and the University of Illinois.

It isn't known whether those institutions were aware that Yuan is a CCP official.

Yuan also is associated with James Le Duc, the director of the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas. The Galveston lab was built by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and operates under the auspices of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Allergies and Health (NIAID).
The connections between the WIV and Le Duc go back to at least 1986, when Le Duc spent a year working at the WIV. Le Duc later trained Wuhan lab staff at his Galveston lab.

Le Duc also knew about Yuan’s true role at the WIV, since the 2013 email that exposed it was in response to a request from Le Duc’s staff to the institute. Le Duc wanted to set up a meeting with “the director of the biocontainment lab.” Notably, the reply, which was sent by a staff member at the Wuhan lab, explained that there were two directors, the nominal director and the “Secretary of the Party Committee.”

Like almost all Chinese institutions, the WIV had an ostensible director and a CCP praetorian. Le Duc likely knew that the real power was vested with Yuan, whom he subsequently befriended.

On Feb. 9, 2020, a month before the pandemic erupted in the United States, Le Duc emailed his “friend” Yuan to ask for an “investigation into the possibility that the Covid outbreak was the result of a release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
That email was uncovered by a separate Freedom of Information Act request late last year. Le Duc attached a catalog of questions for Yuan, including asking when the WIV first started handling coronaviruses and where it had obtained its large collection of viruses.

Most significantly, Le Duc outright asked Yuan whether the Wuhan lab had conducted gain-of-function experiments that may have resulted in the creation of COVID-19.

Le Duc ended his email with an admonition to Yuan: “If there are weaknesses in your program, now is the time to admit them and get them corrected. ... I trust that you will take my suggestions in the spirit of one friend trying to help another during a very difficult time.”

Despite Le Duc’s decades-long affiliation with the WIV and his personal friendship with Yuan, he never heard back.

In April 2020, Le Duc contacted EcoHealth adviser David Franz to tell him about his outreach to Yuan, as well as the fact that Yuan had failed to respond.

EcoHealth is the organization through which Fauci had funded gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses at the WIV. It's unknown why Le Duc reached out to Franz or what Franz’s response was, if any. Franz previously was the commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.

Chinese authorities have accused Fort Detrick of being the true origin of the COVID-19 virus.
At the same time, another former military official, Philip Russell, the former commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command—also located at Fort Detrick—sent Le Duc a link to an EpochTV documentary that concluded that the pandemic likely started at the WIV. Le Duc replied that he thought the virus came out of the Wuhan seafood market, but acknowledged that he couldn't “argue with the comments against the Chinese Communist Party.”

Le Duc stated: “It's too bad that the global pandemic is being conflated with the challenges the world faces from the Chinese Communist Party. They are both important issues, but I'm not convinced that they are linked.”

As we now know—and as Le Duc knew at the time—the link between the WIV and the CCP was Le Duc’s friend Yuan.

In an apparent effort to deflect Russell’s attention from the evidence of a lab leak, Le Duc praised the lab’s director, Shi Zhengli, claiming that she was a “very talented scientist and a charming person.”

Russell didn't fall for the decoy, responding: “I have no doubt that Zheng Li Shi is a brilliant scientist and very charming. That does not rule out the possibility that one of the many bat coronaviruses isolated in the Wuhan lab infected a technician who walked out the door. No need for engineering the virus.

"The flimsiness of the epidemiology pointing to the wet market, the absence of bats in the market, the failure to identify an intermediate animal host, the extraordinary measures taken by the Chinese government, including persecution and probable killing of two brave physicians to cover up the outbreak, the steps taken to silence the laboratory personnel, the change in leadership of the lab, all point to the lab as the source of the outbreak.”

At that point, Le Duc replied that it was “certainly possible that a lab accident was the source of the epidemic.” Le Duc also revealed that he had reached out to Yuan about a lab leak but never heard back from him. Le Duc closed by betraying what appears to have been his real objective: “We need to strike a balance such that we are not in an adversarial situation.”

In other words, it appears Le Duc was motivated by a desire not to create a conflict with the CCP. Analogously, then-NIH head Dr. Francis Collins privately told Fauci and his group of scientists to suppress evidence of a lab origin in order to preserve “international harmony.”

There is little doubt that if it had been publicly known in March 2020 that the virus originated at a CCP-affiliated lab, the worldwide pressure on the CCP would have been immense.