Thursday’s allegations from the Chinese Foreign Ministry that the Wuhan coronavirus originated in America and was spread to China by the U.S. military were not a fluke or an example of a rogue spokesman running his mouth.
Foreign Ministry mouthpiece Zhao Lijian doubled down with more allegations on Friday, signaling a major effort by the Chinese Communist Party to gaslight the entire world and avoid responsibility for the global pandemic unleashed by the Chinese government.
This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it. COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US. https://t.co/LPanIo40MR
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
Quartz noted on Friday that the articles Zhao is pushing were created by Global Research, a firm founded by “a Canadian economist who has espoused conspiracy theories linked to the H1N1 swine flu epidemic and 9/11 in the past.”
Quartz also noted the irony of Zhao pushing this ugly rumor on Twitter, a platform long ago banned by the Chinese government, which puts on a great show of using its immense censorship apparatus to halt the spread of scurrilous “rumors” and “misinformation.”
Meanwhile, the propaganda operation is moving full speed ahead on Weibo, the microblogging platform Chinese subjects are allowed to use. On the bright side, at least the version of Zhao’s conspiracy theory spread domestically by the Chinese government suggests that the U.S. might not have introduced the virus to Wuhan deliberately:
The conspiracy posits that 300 athletes from the US military who in October attended the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan, where the epidemic first broke out, were infected with the virus, thereby spreading it in China.
Zhao’s comment accompanied a video from a US congressional hearing this week on the country’s response to the epidemic. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in the video that some patients who were previously diagnosed to have died from the flu were found to have actually died from the coronavirus. The video began trending on Chinese social network Weibo, with many commenting that they now believe firmly that the US had covered up facts related to the epidemic.
The Epoch Times noted that Chinese propagandists are deliberately mistranslating what Redfield said in the video clip they are so enamored with:
Several Chinese state media outlets published wrong translations of an exchange between U.S. Representative Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) during a hearing on March 11.
Rouda asked Redfield whether there was a possibility that some people in the United States died of COVID-19 before they were properly tested and diagnosed for the novel coronavirus, as the symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu.
Redfield replied: “Some cases have been actually diagnosed in that way in the United States today.”
But Chinese state-run media mistranslated this exchange to insinuate that Redfield admitted to people dying of COVID-19 earlier in the flu season in the United States.
Global Times, Beijing News, and other outlets also cited CDC statistics to give Chinese readers the impression that large numbers of Americans have already died of the virus. “According to the U.S. CDC, at least 34 million Americans are infected with influenza this season, and 20,000 of them have died.”
The Epoch Times also spotted a document being passed around by Chinese social media users less friendly to the regime that purportedly contains specific instructions for spreading coronavirus propaganda given to China’s notorious “50-Cent Army” of online trolls. The document, whose authenticity could not be verified, includes talking points similar to those employed by Zhao and Chinese state media.
At least one other Foreign Ministry spokesman more widely quoted in the West, Geng Shuang, refused to challenge or denounce Zhao’s tweets.
“The international community, including the U.S., have different opinions about the origin of the virus,” was Geng’s comment when asked about Zhao’s theories.
“China always considers this a scientific question, which should be addressed in a scientific and professional manner,” he added.
CNN noticed a “concerted campaign to question the origin of the novel coronavirus” on Chinese social media. Chinese officials are very much a part of this campaign. Zhao’s superior at the Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, used the Redfield video as an excuse to thunder that it is “absolutely WRONG and INAPPROPRIATE to call this the Chinese coronavirus.” Last week the Chinese ambassador to South Africa suggested the virus might not have originated in China.
More articles supporting the propaganda offensive came spilling out of Chinese state media on Friday, flooding the zone with misleading commentary on the Redfield video.
The Global Times actually tried to castigate the U.S. for merely noticing and responding to Zhao’s insane comments, tossing in the umpteenth deliberate misinterpretation of Redfield’s comments for good measure. Beijing’s orchestrated campaign to blame the U.S. for the coronavirus was treated like some organic grassroots movement of individual Chinese citizens asking questions.
Another Global Times editorial used Redfield to accuse the U.S. government of doing precisely what the Chinese Communist Party actually did in the early days of the outbreak – conceal the true number of cases to downplay the severity of the crisis for political reasons:
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was asked by lawmakers when testifying in a House subcommittee on Wednesday if it’s possible that some Americans died of what on the surface seems like influenza but is in fact COVID-19. He confirmed it.
This is a very important piece of information, telling people that the state of novel coronavirus outbreak in the US is much larger than the data that has been released so far. The US just reported over one thousand confirmed cases and more than 30 deaths. The US’ testing capacity has been far from enough to meet the demand, leading to a cover-up of the true state of the epidemic.
Several celebrities in the US have contracted the coronavirus, military personnel and congressional staff have been infected, and some politicians have been in close contact with confirmed patients. This reflects how the epidemic in the US is widespread.
This was followed by China howling with outrage at U.S. officials who accurately noted that China really did try to hide the disease, punishing and humiliating doctors who tried to raise the alarm in time to save countless lives. Chinese state media is frantically trying to flush all that down the Memory Hole and recast accurate criticism of the Communist Party’s conduct as “shameless” efforts to “shift blame regarding the epidemic,” as the Global Times put it.
The Xinhua “news” network went big on the Redfield video clip, aggressively pushing the narrative that he was tacitly admitting the coronavirus began in the United States and was brought to Wuhan by U.S. soldiers.