Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been carrying out "secret classified animal experiments" in Wuhan for years, said Mathew Pottinger, former US Deputy National Security Advisor (DNSA), while adding that Beijing tried to cover up the COVID-19 outbreak.
Taiwan Times quoted Pottinger as speaking in an interview with CBS on Sunday: "Chinese military was doing secret classified animal experiments in that same laboratory [Wuhan Institute of Virology]".
He further said that there is "good reason to believe" that an outbreak of a "flu-like illness" had occurred among the scientists in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in the fall of 2019, just before the first cases of a new type of pneumonia were being reported in Wuhan, Taiwan Times reported.
He also emphasised that the COVID-19 disease was already spreading from the autumn of 2019.
Last month, the US had issued a statement saying, "Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China's military."
It further said that the WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017."
According to the former security advisor, the US' statement was "meant to make the case for further investigation into the WIV's activities leading up to the outbreak in the city".He further said that the US' too much reliance on China's CDC resulted in the American health officials not getting information about the outbreak sooner.
However, China's CDC was "left in the dark and even the center's director "did not know this thing was circulating until the last day of December", said the former security while adding that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had put the PLA in charge of handling the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
The PLA tried to "cover this thing up, to try to contain it until it was too late", he reiterated.