Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Microbiology, has questioned the legitimacy of a BBC report which quoted him as saying that the COVID lab leak theory has not been ruled out.
Titled Covid: Top Chinese scientist says don't rule out lab leak, the BBC story claimed that Gao said: "You can always suspect anything. That's science. Don't rule out anything", in an interview for the BBC Radio 4 podcast Fever: The Hunt for Covid's Origin.
However, when guancha.cn sought verification from Gao regarding the accuracy of the story, Gao told them that John Sudworth and Simon Maybin, the co-authors of the BBC article, had never interviewed him, and he had not participated in any activities organized by the BBC recently.
Gao stated that the BBC's "outrageous" quotation of his words was taken out of context from an online conversation he had with several scientists at the end of 2022.
During that online conversation, some scientists mentioned that a lab leak could not be ruled out. And then Gao said: "Scientifically, we do not rule out any possibilities. But every possibility requires evidence, and there is no evidence of a lab leak. Science requires evidence and questioning, so within the scientific context, any possibility can be discussed."
Gao angrily lambasted the wishful reporting by the BBC. "Whether in Chinese or English context, when a speaker adds 'but' in their speech, it clearly indicates that the content following 'but' is the main emphasis of the speaker. The actions of the BBC can be described as shamelessly taking things out of context and distorting the truth."
One of the authors of the article is the former BBC correspondent in China, John Sudworth, who is notorious for covering China with deceptive and fabricated stories. At the end of March 2021, Sudworth was criticized by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying for leaving the mainland without following proper procedures.