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Has a top Chinese official defected to the US with Wuhan lab secrets? Rumors swirl vice minister of State Security fled Beijing in February with information that sparked Biden u-turn on COVID origins

 A high-ranking Chinese spy chief is rumoured to have defected to the United States and given Washington evidence on the Wuhan lab which prompted Joe Biden's about-face on the coronavirus leak theory. 

Dong Jingwei is believed to have fled to the US with his daughter Dong Yang on February 10, according to Spy Talk

He made a name in China's secret service, known as Guoanbu, and was head of counter-intelligence, or spy-catching, after being promoted to the post of vice minister in April 2018.

If the reports are true, Dong is the highest-level defector in the history of the People’s Republic of China.

It is claimed that he informed US officials about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where Covid-19 may have emerged, causing Biden to look seriously at the lab leak theory - long-derided as an erroneous fascination of the Trump administration. 

Dong has been pictured online, and though not all of the pictures match up, one that continues to crop up was posted by Dr Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official who defected after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Han, described by US officials as a 'straight-shooter,' claims that Beijing dispatched envoys to meet with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in March to discuss handing Dong back to them. 

Dr Shi Zhengli (pictured) is known as 'Bat Woman' by her colleagues because of her pioneering virus-hunting expeditions to bat caves. She is also at the centre of theories which claim that Covid-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology

Dr Shi Zhengli (pictured) is known as 'Bat Woman' by her colleagues because of her pioneering virus-hunting expeditions to bat caves. She is also at the centre of theories which claim that Covid-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology

Various photos purporting to show Dong Jingwei have appeared online.  One that continues to crop up was this one posted by Dr Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official who defected after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre

Various photos purporting to show Dong Jingwei have appeared online.  One that continues to crop up was this one posted by Dr Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official who defected after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre 

It is claimed that the Communist Party's top brass demanded Dong be returned to them at a highly-contentious meeting in Alaska

It is claimed that the Communist Party's top brass demanded Dong be returned to them at a highly-contentious meeting in Alaska

Han claims the Communist Party's top brass demanded Dong be returned to them at the highly-contentious meeting in Alaska.

Blinken refused, Han said.   

'He worked closely with Zhang Yue, who's now serving 15 years imprisonment for corruption,' Han said. 

'Zhang was a confidant of Ma Jian, former MSS executive vice minister, who is also in prison for corruption.'

Dong 'was last seen in public in September 2020,' Han claimed. 

His photos have been deleted by the Chinese search engine Baidu, according to some Chinese language news reports abroad. 

Han's claim was impossible to verify, but he was known as 'a straight shooter, not known to exaggerate in any way or form, trusted for his integrity,' according to Nicholas Eftimiades, a former Pentagon, State Department and CIA expert.


But Eftimiades, a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, warned that the report should be seen for 'exactly what it is, a rumor.'

He added that such rumors 'happen all the time'. 

Mollie Saltskog, a senior intelligence analyst with The Soufan Group, agreed, saying that unconfirmed reports of defections surface regularly.  

'While significant and certainly useful for our intelligence efforts, one high-level defection will not drastically change our understanding or approach to China,' she told Spy Talk. 

'In short, if true, this is potentially significant but not a game-changer.'

The conservative website Red State reported that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had received information from him that Beijing is covering up biological warfare research at the Wuhan lab. 

Dr Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical advisor and a current target of Republican fury, has defended investing U.S. funds in the Wuhan lab, insisting that their research into coronaviruses was essential and it would be 'a dereliction of duty' not to support their work. 

Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State (center right) is seen meeting his Chinese counterpart in Alaska on March 18. At the meeting, Dong's defection was raised, a Chinese dissident has alleged. China asked for Dong to be sent back: Blinken reportedly refused

Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State (center right) is seen meeting his Chinese counterpart in Alaska on March 18. At the meeting, Dong's defection was raised, a Chinese dissident has alleged. China asked for Dong to be sent back: Blinken reportedly refused

Blinken, pictured with a face mask, refused to hand over Dong, a Chinese dissident reported. The State Department has not confirmed Dong's defection

Blinken, pictured with a face mask, refused to hand over Dong, a Chinese dissident reported. The State Department has not confirmed Dong's defection

Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiech is pictured at the March 18 meeting in Alaska. He is said to have demanded the return of Dong, who reportedly defected on February 10

Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiech is pictured at the March 18 meeting in Alaska. He is said to have demanded the return of Dong, who reportedly defected on February 10

Red State reported that Dong's defection pushed U.S. officials to question Fauci's approach. 

'Sources say the level of confidence in the defector's information is what has led to a sudden crisis of confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci, adding that U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) personnel detailed to DIA have corroborated very technical details of information provided by the defector,' it said.

Spy Talk also quoted the Paris-based newsletter Intelligence Online as reporting that Dong is 'close to' Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. 

'He previously headed the Guoanbu (security ministry) in the region of Hebei, which has produced many of Xi's securocrats,' the publication reported in 2018.   

Dong's defection, if it happened, may never be confirmed.

But it does come as the Biden administration, following scientific consensus, makes a notable shift in its thinking about the 'lab leak' theory.

Last year scientists were downplaying the theory, insisting that it was far more likely that the COVID-19 virus passed from animals to humans.

Now scientists believe that it may indeed be true.

On January 15 the State Department published a fact sheet about COVID-19, which said that 'circumstantial' evidence suggested a lab leak theory was possible. 

Biden on May 26 ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the two competing ideas about the origins of the pandemic - evolved naturally and passed from animals to humans, or released from a laboratory. He gave them 90 days to report back.

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