China Accused of Inventing Swiss Scientist to Dispute Coronavirus Origin

A news vendor places a copy of the Global Times for display on her newsstand in Beijing on April 20, 2009. China's second national English-language daily newspaper hit the streets in a key government drive to push its message abroad as papers in the West struggle to survive with the …
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese state propaganda has been accused of inventing a Swiss biologist to dispute the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus.

In a post on Tuesday, the embassy of Switzerland in Beijing accused the communist dictatorship of spreading “fake news” by citing an apparently fabricated Swiss biologist to claim that investigations into the origin of the virus were politically motivated by pressure from the United States.

“Looking for Wilson Edwards, alleged [Swiss] biologist, cited in press and social media in China over the last several days. 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 embassy wrote on social media.

In an archived version of an article from China Daily, — the largest English language propaganda paper of the Communist Party — Wilson Edwards was referred to as a “biologist in Switzerland”.

The state mouthpiece claimed that Edwards had written on his Facebook page: “As a biologist, I’ve witnessed in consternation over the past months how the origin-tracing of COVID-19 was politicized.”

“He added that the WHO’s new plans are largely politically motivated,” China Daily claimed.

The article has since been updated with Edwards’ alleged comments removed, however, no correction was issued.

The Global Times also cited the supposed Swiss biologist as well, attributing comments to him claiming that Edwards was worried about the World Health Organization’s “independence”. The apparently fictitious biologist went on to claim that the investigations into the virus’ origin in Wuhan from the WHO were a result of “enormous pressure” and “intimidation” from the United States.

“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 figure referred to as Edwards said, apparently quoting a WHO source as having relayed to the alleged biologist.

The article has since been deleted.

Despite developing views that the coronavirus may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory, the Chinese Communist Party has — without evidence — claimed that the virus emerged from the U.S. Army laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland. China has also tried to claim — again without evidence — that the Wuhan virus emerged in Italy.

The Swiss embassy in China said: “In the last several days, a large number of press articles and social media posts citing an alleged Swiss biologist have been published in China. While we appreciate the attention to our country, the Embassy of Switzerland must, unfortunately, inform the Chinese public that this 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 cited under this name.

“The Facebook account cited as having published his commentary was only opened on 24 July 2021 and has only posted this one post so far. It only has 3 friends. It is likely that this account was not opened for social networking purposes.

“While we assume that the spreading of this story was done in good faith by the media and netizens, we kindly ask that anyone having published this story take it down and publish a corrigendum.”

It is not the first time that Chinese media has been accused of fabricating Westerners in order to give credence to their propaganda efforts.

In March, the French newspaper Le Monde accused CGTN (China’s global television network) of inventing a fake French journalist to dispute the evidence and numerous accusations that the Xinjiang region has seen a mass genocide of Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities and to promote the natural beauty of the region.

The alleged journalist, who was referred to as Laurene Beaumond, was not found in any register of French journalists in an investigation from the paper.

China has stridently proclaimed that the “freelance journalist” named Laurene Beaumond is, in fact, a real person. However, the defence from the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not back up the claim that the woman was a journalist, as the articles under her name had claimed.

A person claiming to be Beaumond later told Le Figaro that she wrote under a pseudonym in order to avoid repercussions for ostensibly spouting CCP propaganda.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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