The concept that the COVID-19 virus may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China was initially dismissed by main public well being authorities.
However, in latest weeks the speculation has gained renewed consideration and that might have political benefits for the Republican Party, consultants have advised Newsweek.
A Wall Street Journal report this week highlighted a May 2020 examine by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that discovered the lab origin speculation to be believable and value additional investigation.
President Joe Biden has ordered an investigation into the virus’ origins and a few Republicans have argued that the potential of a lab leak vindicates former President Donald Trump‘s claims about COVID-19, in addition to GOP criticism of China’s function within the pandemic.
The principle facilities on the concept that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China’s Hubei province.
Speaking to Fox News‘ Sean Hannity on Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) steered that if the lab leak theory had been proven before the 2020 presidential election, Trump may have won.
“If Trump was right about the lab leak it would change the image the public had of Trump regarding the coronavirus. More importantly, if it came out of the lab in China, he was right it was the China virus, and the 2020 election would have been about who could hold China accountable, Trump or Biden,” Graham mentioned.
“Who would you want in the room to hold China accountable for infecting the world with coronavirus?” Graham requested.
Political consultants who spoke to Newsweek emphasised that Republicans like Graham might even see proving the lab leak principle as a possible political win and a approach to push more durable measures towards China.
Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London’s Centre on U.S. Politics, advised Newsweek that Republicans may see political advantages from pursuing investigations into the lab leak speculation.
“There’s little doubt that Republicans will push for a larger-scale probe into the lab leak theory, especially given recent reports about its plausibility,” Gift mentioned. “If new evidence could prove the theory (or simply offer compelling evidence of its veracity), it’s hard to imagine that not being a political boon for Republicans.”
“Republicans would gain more ammunition to portray the response to COVID-19 as they often do: as being driven by elites with—at best—incomplete knowledge, and—at worst—an explicit partisan agenda,” Gift added.
“Amidst an ongoing trade war with Beijing, as well as concerns about the government’s military expansionism and human rights abuses, the framing of China is already quite negative in Washington. To the extent that the lab leak theory gains traction, it would only fuel even more negative sentiments toward America’s number one geopolitical adversary,” he mentioned.
Robert Singh is a professor on the Department of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. He advised Newsweek the GOP may use the lab leak principle as a way to painting the Biden administration as weak on China.
“China is one of the few sources of bipartisan agreement in Washington today. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a source of friction between the parties,” Singh mentioned.
“The Republicans will likely want to push for as aggressive a probe into the lab leak theory as possible, in part to portray the Democrats as ‘weak’ on the key foreign policy issue of our time—U.S./China relations—and in part to vindicate Trump’s ‘China virus’ claims of the past year.
“It will seemingly push Biden into being extra assertive than he would possibly ideally want to be, because the Democrats know that they can’t enable themselves to be seen as ‘smooth’ on Beijing. Biden has already maintained a lot of the Trump commerce method. He might now discover political pressures ratcheting as much as make the broader U.S. stance extra muscular.”
Former President Trump repeatedly argued that he was “powerful” on China and frequently criticized the country. He also referred to COVID-19 as “China virus” and “Wuhan virus.” He demanded on June 3 that China pay the U.S. and the world $10 trillion in compensation for the pandemic.
Mark Shanahan is a professor and head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Reading University and the author of Eisenhower at the Dawn of the Space Age. He told Newsweek the lab leak theory fits neatly into Trump’s style of rhetoric.
“What’s most fascinating in regards to the ‘lab leak principle’ is that it performs into the Trumpian narrative of ‘othering’ issues and making each concern the U.S. faces an existential risk,” Shanahan said.
“Given the authoritarian nature of the Chinese government and the secrecy inside which it conducts its enterprise, it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll ever know precisely what went on in Wuhan, and any U.S.-led enquiry is prone to founder on the partitions of Chinese non-cooperation.”
“The Trumpist wing of the GOP need to be confirmed proper: that the pandemic was a deliberate Chinese conspiracy,” Shanahan said. “If they will try this, and persuade the American public that the fault lies elsewhere, they hope to divert consideration from Trump’s achingly sluggish and scarily chaotic response to the pandemic when it hit US shores in 2020, and the over 400,000 individuals throughout the nation who died of COVID-19.”
On Trump’s last full day in office on January 19, 2021, U.S. deaths from COVID-19 reached 400,000, according to NPR.
“The Trumpists need vindication,” Shanahan added. “Actually, Biden might effectively let this technique play out. He hasn’t dramatically altered U.S. coverage in direction of China since taking workplace and understanding how the virus emerged doesn’t change his repudiation of the best way Donald Trump subsequently dealt with it.”
Newsweek has asked former President Trump’s office for comment.