U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo conveyed “strong objections” to Yang Jiechi, Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China, on Monday over what the State Department described as “PRC efforts to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States.”
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is waging a steadily escalating propaganda campaign to blame the Wuhan virus, formally designated COVID-19, on the United States.
This effort began with pseudo-scientific musings by Chinese government officials that the true origin of the coronavirus is unknown, evolved into speculation that it came from beyond the city of Wuhan where the first known human infections occurred, and then suddenly morphed into conspiracy theories that the virus had foreign origins.
The Chinese Communist Party helped to hatch its propaganda war by pressuring international agencies and media organizations into calling the virus “COVID-19” instead of “the Wuhan virus,” breaking the conceptual link in the global public mind between the disease and its point of origin. Many Western media organizations and politicians assisted China’s effort by declaring the phrase “Wuhan virus” is somehow racist.
Over the past few weeks, Chinese officials and state-managed social media accounts began floating theories that the coronavirus began in the United States and was brought to Wuhan by U.S. Army soldiers visiting for the Military World Games in October. On Monday a major Chinese Communist Party paper, the Global Times, stated the virus might have been developed in the U.S. Army laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
On Saturday the U.S. government lodged a formal complaint with Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai over the behavior of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, one of the highest-ranking and most prolific purveyors of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus having American origins.
According to the State Department, Secretary Pompeo stressed in his call with Yang Jiechi on Monday that “this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat.”
According to Chinese state media reports relayed by Reuters, Yang replied that U.S. “attempts to smear China” over the coronavirus outbreak “will not succeed.”
“On the call, Yang told Pompeo that China opposed and condemned U.S. politicians’ efforts to denigrate China’s efforts, and said actions that harmed China’s interests would be retaliated against,” Reuters reported.