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Operation Warp Speed and the men and women who led the way in creating and distributing the multiple vaccines available today are putting Americans back to work, back to school, and back to life — and we are grateful. In the midst of the current news cycle, it is important to remember who and what is at fault here. No American is to blame for the current circumstances — in fact America is surely the reason the world has and will be able to not just survive the virus but resume normal life.

The unfortunate reality is that countless friends and family members could have been saved earlier had it not been for the deception of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Evidence continues to indicate that the CCP intentionally hid information and lied about what it knew to be true about the virus, and Republicans have led the charge and will continue to call for action to find the truth about how the virus originated and to hold China accountable. 

Leader McCarthy introduced an outline to do so last month. One of these pillars included ensuring the United States no longer funds any gain-of-function research conducted in or with China, or any individual with known ties to the CCP. While Dr. Anthony Fauci has denied that National Institutes of Health dollars went towards the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, some scientists have said the work was “unequivocally” gain-of-function research. This matters in determining whether U.S. tax dollars were sent to the cause of the pandemic and whether Dr. Fauci has covered it up. 

Leader McCarthy’s office recently spoke with former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to cut through the noise and get to the truth.

1. Tell us about the CCP’s general posture towards its people. What kind of environment have they created in China?

DNI Ratcliffe: Over the past three decades since the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the CCP has consolidated its hold on power in China using the most repressive tactics on its own population of any developed country in the world. As a result, more than any other nation, China deploys surveillance systems and censorship to monitor its own population and repress internal dissent, particularly among ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs.

2. What are these virology labs like in China? What do we know about China’s military being involved in them? As an intelligence specialist, what does it mean to you that the military may be in charge of such a lab?

Ratcliffe: In January of this year, prior to leaving my position as Director of National Intelligence, I worked with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to declassify intelligence which revealed the Chinese military‘s extensive involvement with the allegedly civilian scientific research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As that declassified State Department fact sheet documents, there was secret military activity taking place in the WIV as early as 2017, specifically including work on bat coronaviruses by China’s “bat lady,” Dr. Shi Zhengli, in coordination with the People’s Liberation Army. Published open sources now reveal that Chinese scientists were conducting gain of function research to engineer viruses which would be more contagious and more lethal.

3. What can you tell us about China’s approach to international organizations? Is it surprising that they would try to interfere with and manipulate the WHO?

Ratcliffe: As the deadly pandemic caused by the Wuhan virus spread from China’s borders, the CCP successfully lobbied the World Health Organization not to declare a public health crisis and then blocked the WHO from investigating the virus’ origins and China’s response. Undermining efforts to warn and protect the world from a Chinese virus is merely one example of how the CCP has used, and in some cases corrupted international organizations to shape international actions and rules to protect and advance China’s self-interests.

The United Nations is another egregious example. CCP officials head four of the UN’s fifteen specialized agencies, more than any other country. China has abused this power to block international cooperation with Taiwan, to promote China’s 5G telecommunication firms to other countries to obtain access to their national security information and to divert any international investigation of China’s genocide of its own Uyghur citizens.

4. What type, if any, of influence does the CCP have in the U.S.? In our organizations/institutions? What are your views of our Chinese counterintelligence?

Ratcliffe: Our intelligence reflects that the CCP‘s influence in the U.S. is far more profound, extensive and corrosive than has been publicly recognized or reported. As DNI, I briefed members of the House and Senate intelligence committees last summer with specific intelligence detailing China’s efforts to target members of Congress through influence measures including bribery, extortion and blackmail with a frequency more than six times greater than any other nation. The CCP’s influence campaign efforts are even more pervasive with state and local government officials.

The CCP is using corporate America to further influence our government and shape our public opinion. The CCP is infiltrating American businesses through corporate boards and executives of various U.S. companies, firms and businesses. The CCP has infiltrated Wall Street using American investment banks to gain opportunities in US innovative technologies, start-up businesses and manufacturing enterprises. The CCP is using our universities and think tanks to shape public opinion and falsely portray China as a “friendly competitor.” Unfortunately, the CCP’s efforts are working, as Nike’s CEO recently said that his company is “of China and for China.”

5. On April 30, 2020, before you were sworn in, ODNI put out a news release stating: “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.” What intelligence at the time led to such a declaration?

Ratcliffe: One of my first actions as director of national intelligence was to assess the validity of that statement. By reviewing subsequently obtained intelligence, specifically including intelligence regarding China’s efforts to both impede and corruptly influence the WHO, it became increasingly apparent the conclusions made in the April 30, 2020 were very much in doubt. Later obtained intelligence about the CCP’s gain of function research and the involvement of China’s military within the WIV prior to the pandemic led to the declassification of information in the January 2021 State Department fact sheet which raises not just the possibility but the probability that the Wuhan virus originated from the WIV.

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