Dong Jingwei, who has been rumored to be a high-ranking defector to the United States, attended a meeting in Beijing on June 23, according to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

The MPS announced on its website that Dong participated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) security meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.

In the announcement, the ministry released a photo, in which Dong Jingwei was sitting at the right end of the table.

Who is Dong Jingwei?

Dong Jingwei, 57, has been a Chinese vice minister of state security and head of counterintelligence for the Chinese Ministry of State Security, the regime’s top spy agency, since 2018.

In June, overseas Chinese media and some U.S. outlets reported that Dong Jingwei had defected and fled to the United States with his daughter. The rumors said that Dong had handed over a large number of documents to DIA, which include evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was performing biological warfare research and the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a virus that leaked from the lab.

Dong Jingwei served as a prestigious counterintelligence head of China’s Ministry of State Security, otherwise known as the Guoanbu. His intelligence is reported to include early pathogenic studies of the virus, models of predicted covid spread and damage to the world, and financial records detailing which organisations and governments funded the research.

He may also have information about the names of Chinese spies working in the US, and how the Chinese government gained access to a CIA communications system.

If the rumours are true, Dong Jingwei would be the highest-level defector ever from the People’s Republic of China.

The Paris-based newsletter Intelligence Online reported in Sept. 2018 that Dong Jingwei is “close to” Chinese President Xi Jinping. The report noted he was previously head of state security in Hebei province, a region that has produced many of China’s top law enforcement officials.

What is the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

The Wuhan Institute of Virology is central to the lab-leak theory on the origins of COVID-19, which links the virus to “gain-of-function” research and other activities carried out in the lab. President Joe Biden said in late May the U.S. intelligence community is considering whether the virus emerged from a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China.

A former senior U.S. government official, who worked on an investigation of the Wuhan lab under former President Donald Trump, told the Telegraph that encouraging defections from China might be the only way to prove the plausibility of a lab leak.

The right-leaning news outlet RedState published an exclusive story June 4 on a high-level defection from China. The story didn’t mention Dong by name but stated the Defense Intelligence Agency had received information from the defector that China’s government is covering up biological warfare research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

More stories: