I will never understand why “China developed COVID-19 in a lab” is any more racist than “Chinese people ate bats and infected half the planet.”
Conducting experiments in a lab is something everybody does. Eating bats… is not. Conducting experiments will never become a negative stereotype because it’s a highly valuable intellectual activity. Nobody is going to say, “gosh, those savages, with their labs and their science.”
The lab-made version might exaggerate the capacities of the Chinese government. But to be racist it needs to relate to ideas of racial superiority and inferiority. And what works better for a racist narrative, “Chinese have labs” or “Chinese eat bats”?
Obviously, I’m not saying it’s racist to observe that bats are eaten in China. But at least one could conceivably arrive at something racist if one went very far in this direction.