Coronavirus: Professor Bing Liu’s murder fuels wild theories


Bing Liu

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University of Pittsburgh

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The deadly shooting of a Chinese-born coronavirus researcher on American soil fueled conspiracy theories around the world.

Bing Liu, a 37-year-old assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was found dead in his home on Saturday.

Colleagues said he was on the verge of drawing “significant conclusions” from his studies on Covid-19, prompting online speculation that it was an assassination.

But the police say it was suicide murder.

Why did Liu die?

He was found with several gunshot wounds to the head, neck, torso and extremities of his home in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, according to local police.

The shooter was identified as 46-year-old software engineer Hao Gu. Authorities say he committed suicide after returning to his car.

Liu and Gu knew each other, said the homicide detectives.

The investigation determined that it was a murder-suicide resulting from “a long dispute over an intimate partner.”

They said there was “no evidence” that the case was related to Liu’s research and the current public health crisis.

Who was Liu?

In a statement, Liu’s colleagues describe him as an exceptional researcher who “was on the verge of making very important discoveries” to understand the cellular mechanisms of Covid-19 infection.

They mourned the death of Liu and pledged to complete his research “in order to pay tribute to his scientific excellence”.

Liu, originally from China, obtained his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in computer science in Singapore before doing research in the United States.

According to his online resume, he had collaborated with biologists and clinicians to study human immunity.

What do conspiracy theorists say?

“Oh my god,” wrote a user of the Chinese social media platform Weibo. “It seems to come straight from Mission Impossible. Maybe he found out that the virus came from an American laboratory. “

Many similar comments suggested that Liu had been killed because he was supposed to uncover the mystery of the origin of the coronavirus.

Chinese authorities and state media have previously supported an unfounded claim that the virus originated in the United States and was brought to Wuhan by American soldiers.

Some Weibo users have said the case “seemed too fortuitous.”

“A very unusual case. There are probably secrets hidden in the dark, ”said one remark.

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Numerous comments from Weibo suggest that Liu’s Chinese background may have put him at risk in the United States, although there is no evidence that Liu was targeted because of his ethnicity.

Global Times, a website affiliated with the Chinese state media, published an article on various speculations concerning the death of Liu.

On Twitter, meanwhile, some have speculated on unsubstantiated allegations that the Chinese government could have played a role in the case.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, various conspiracy theories about the virus and its origins continue to spread on online platforms. Some unverified claims have been promoted by politicians and the media in the United States and China.


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