Washington [US], June 18 (ANI): Chinese vice-minister of State Security, Dong Jingwei, reportedly defected to the United States and gave the information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is at the center of coronavirus lab-leak hypothesis.
According to a report in SpyTalk, Chinese-language anti-communist media and Twitter are abuzz with rumours that Dong fled to the US via Hong Kong with his daughter, Dong Yang mid-February.
SpyTalk is a newsletter covering US intelligence, defense, and foreign policy, on the Substack platform.
Dong supposedly gave Washington information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology that changed the stance of the Biden Administration concerning the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Spy Talk, if rumours are true, it would be the highest level-defection in the history of the People's Republic of China.
Dong is, or was, a longtime official in China's Ministry of State Security (MSS), also known as the Guoanbu.
His publicly available background indicates that he was responsible for the Ministry's counterintelligence efforts in China, i.e., spy-catching, since being promoted to vice minister in April 2018.
The issue of Dong's defection was raised by Chinese officials at the Sino-American summit in Alaska, according to Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official who defected after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Han, citing an unnamed source, alleged that China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Communist Party foreign affairs boss Yang Jiechi demanded that the Americans return Dong, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken refused.
However, several experts have said that unconfirmed reports of defections surface regularly.
Former Pentagon, State Department, and CIA expert, Nicholas Eftimiades, author of Chinese Espionage: Operations and Tactics, called the report "exactly what it is, a rumor. It happens all the time" in the information warfare between Beijing and anti-communist overseas Chinese.
Mollie Saltskog, a senior intelligence analyst with The Soufan Group, who earned a master's degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University in Beijing, also urged caution, saying unconfirmed reports of defections surface regularly.
Chinese-language press stories also claim that Dong's daughter Yang defected with him from Hong Kong on or about Feb. 10.
She is allegedly the former spouse of a senior Alibaba Group executive, Jiang Fan, who heads up TMall, China's big Amazon-like business
Dong "was last seen in public in September 2020," Han said. His photos have been deleted by the Chinese search engine Baidu, according to some Chinese-language news reports abroad.
Without naming Dong, the pro-Trump web site Red State reported June 4 on a high-level defection from China, saying the Defense Intelligence Agency had received information from him that Beijing is covering up biological warfare research at the Wuhan lab, and advanced its story to question the integrity of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"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.
The origin of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has remained a mystery with scientists and countries calling for further investigations to figure out whether the virus originated naturally or leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
The Wuhan lab leak theory has recently become the subject of renewed public debate after several prominent scientists called for a full investigation into the origins of the virus.
The hypothesis that the virus was accidentally leaked from the lab was largely disregarded by scientists in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. China has repeatedly denied that the lab was responsible for the outbreak.
Recently, US President Joe Biden ordered intelligence officials to "redouble" efforts to investigate the origins of Covid-19, including the theory that it came from a laboratory in China. (ANI)