Letting China off the hook for the Covid lab leak would be ‘bonkers diplomacy’, claims expert 

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Letting China off the hook for the Covid lab leak would be ‘bonkers diplomacy’, claims expert 

China must be challenged over its denials that the Covid pandemic might have been caused by a leak from one of its laboratories, an expert warned last

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China must be challenged over its denials that the Covid pandemic might have been caused by a leak from one of its laboratories, an expert warned last night.

The call came amid fears Britain is turning a blind eye to the latest evidence in order not to upset Beijing, with diplomatic relations on a knife-edge over the war in Ukraine.

China is said to be considering whether to provide armed drones to Russia in the next few days.

But chemical and biological expert Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said that letting China off the hook over a possible coronavirus lab leak at Wuhan would be ‘bonkers diplomacy’.

The former commander of the UK’s Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment (CBRN) insisted Britain must demand a full and wholly transparent investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

China must be challenged over its denials that the Covid pandemic might have been caused by a leak from one of its laboratories, an expert warned. Pictured: Virologists in Wuhan in 2017

China must be challenged over its denials that the Covid pandemic might have been caused by a leak from one of its laboratories, an expert warned. Pictured: Virologists in Wuhan in 2017

China must be challenged over its denials that the Covid pandemic might have been caused by a leak from one of its laboratories, an expert warned. Pictured: Virologists in Wuhan in 2017

A growing number of experts now believe coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured)

A growing number of experts now believe coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured)

A growing number of experts now believe coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured)

He was speaking after the US Energy Department concluded the outbreak was most likely to have started with a laboratory leak, a view supported by the FBI.

A growing number of experts now believe coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, having previously said they were ‘undecided’. 

Beijing has rejected the claims, saying the virus first emerged outside the country and accusing the US of political smears.

With China’s foreign ministry calling on the West to ‘stop stirring up the laboratory leak argument’, there are concerns that Britain and other nations are suppressing the claims to prevent a diplomatic fall-out.

The US says it has intelligence that China is considering sending 100 drones and other lethal weapons to Russia as Beijing considers ramping up its support for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to meet with Putin in days.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to meet with Putin in days (pictured together in February 2022)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to meet with Putin in days (pictured together in February 2022)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to meet with Putin in days (pictured together in February 2022)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty take part in a national minute of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty take part in a national minute of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty take part in a national minute of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

But Colonel de Bretton-Gordon – who led the Joint CBRN Regiment, a specialist expeditionary unit of the armed forces trained in the detection, identification and monitoring of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons – warned against going soft on China.

He said: ‘Many in government and industry do not want to criticise the Chinese government for political and commercial reasons. I expect we do not want to give them any excuse to arm the Russians.

‘But it would be bonkers diplomacy to link the investigation to arming or not arming Moscow.

‘While China is a bigger threat than Russia long term, we should not fear Beijing militarily – the Chinese are untested and the nuclear balance is well in our favour.’

Referring to the millions of Covid deaths globally and two and a half years in which the world was ‘brought to its knees’, he asked: ‘Should we turn a blind eye?

‘The UK, the US, Nato and France must stand up. We need much better policing of laboratories around the world.’

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