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Chinese papers quote Swiss biologist to support Covid origin study, embassy says he doesn’t exist

The Swiss embassy said it has no registry of any citizen named Edwards Wilson, who has been quoted by several Chinese papers on reports about the origin of coronavirus.

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New Delhi: Over the last few days, a number of Chinese papers quoted a Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards in support of China’s joint study with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the origin of the novel coronavirus. But the Swiss embassy in China has now lashed out at the Chinese media, saying no such individual exists.

The uproar has pushed some Chinese papers to remove the alleged scientist’s comments.

China Global Television Network (CGTN) removed his name from an article in which Edwards had alleged “enormous pressure” and “intimidation” from the US on China’s role in the origin of the novel coronavirus, said journalist Jonathan Cheng, the China bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal.

China Daily has also removed his name from a similar article.

On Tuesday, the Swiss embassy shared a Twitter post raising suspicion on the existence of the alleged Swiss biologist.

“…If you exist, we would like to meet you! But it is more likely that this is a fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts,” the post said. It also contained a detailed note declaring that nobody called Wilson Edwards exists.

“While we appreciate the attention on our country, the Embassy of Switzerland must unfortunately inform the Chinese public that the news is false… There is no registry of any Swiss citizen with the name ‘Wilson Edwards’, there are no academic articles in the biology field under his name,” the embassy said, requesting to take down stories mentioning him.

Also read: China firm sanctioned by US, EU for Uyghur rights abuse profits from world markets: Report

What ‘Wilson said’ in the Chinese media

Wilson was quoted in the CGTN article as saying that he and fellow researchers had faced pressure and intimidation from the US and some media outlets for supporting conclusions in a joint study by China and the WHO on the origins of coronavirus. 

The WHO investigation report published in April this year had said that Covid probably spread from bats to humans via other animals, which had received criticism from the US.

On 24 July, a Facebook post by an account named Wilson Edwards was picked up by several Chinese media outlets, which claimed to have witnessed US’ efforts to politicise the WHO investigations regarding the origin of Covid-19.

“The WHO sources told me the US is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings,” the post read. 

Chinese media outlets including Global Times, People’s Daily and Chinese Daily picked the news and published it, citing the alleged Swiss scientist.

The Facebook account, which was created only on 24 July with three friends and only made this one post has also been deleted, said the Swiss embassy.

Also read: China recalls its envoy to Lithuania over opening de facto Taiwan embassy


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