China Using ‘Netizen’ Petition to Pressure W.H.O. into Blaming U.S. for Coronavirus

HONG KONG, CHINA - JULY 24: A elderly man is carried on a stretcher by paramedics on to a minibus as residents are evacuated from a nursing home to a quarantine center after multiple infections of the Covid-19 on July 24, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong reported another …
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China’s state-run Global Times on Sunday reported that over half a million “Chinese netizens” have signed a petition calling on the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) to investigate the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick as a potential origin location of the Chinese coronavirus.

The state newspaper’s coverage did not specify if any way existed for the W.H.O. to verify that all “netizens” involved – social media users whose opinions the Communist Party does not censor – were real people or simply usernames on Chinese social media sites. The Chinese government has for months promoted the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that, despite all evidence suggesting the Chinese coronavirus originated in China, its true origin is in the Fort Detrick facility.

The Global Times gave the game away by muttering that “the move came as certain Western politicians and media stirred up a new round of the smear campaign of pinpointing China as the culprit for the coronavirus origin.”

Another telling paragraph from the Global Times tirade read:

A new wave of politicizing the coronavirus origins probe was stirred up after W.H.O. Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus proposed in a closed-door briefing to member states on Friday a second stage of an investigation into the origins of coronavirus should include further studies in China and lab “audits.”

The Fort Detrick conspiracy theory, which some of the Communist Party’s more odious officials have been pushing since the early days of the pandemic, aims to deflect attention from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which China resolutely refuses to allow W.H.O. to investigate thoroughly. The “smear campaign” referenced by the Global Times is growing international acknowledgment that WIV could be the birthplace of the pandemic.

The Communist Party has little trouble mustering “Chinese netizens” – many of whom turn out to be robots upon closer examination – to promote its political agenda. The Global Times labored mightily to create an atmosphere of dark conspiracy around Fort Detrick and pretend it should be investigated to “prevent the next epidemic”:

The open letter particularly noted the Fort Detrick lab, which stores the most deadly and infectious viruses in the world, including Ebola, smallpox, SARS, MERS and the novel coronavirus. [sic] The leak of any of them would cause severe danger to the world.

“But this lab has a notorious record on lab security. There have been scandals of anthrax bacterium from the lab being stolen, causing poisoning to many and even death. There has been a leakage incident in the lab in the autumn of 2019 right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, however, detailed information had been withheld by the US under excuses of national security,” said the letter. 

The information unveiled by the US media has worried the world and some have questioned whether the novel coronavirus could be linked to the US lab.

The remarks echoed the serious safety concerns that dogged Chinese virus labs before the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Global Times hinted that the W.H.O.’s interest in further investigations of Wuhan may be the real problem. W.H.O.’s much-delayed mission to Wuhan this year was widely derided as a stage-managed political event in which the investigators spent as much time talking to Communist Party political officers as Chinese scientists, and a good deal of vital raw data was withheld by the Chinese government. 

W.H.O. began backing away from its Wuhan report even before it was published and has constantly expressed interest in making a second visit with more unfettered access to vital data. Contrary to frequent insinuations by the Global Times and other Chinese state propaganda outlets, at no point did W.H.O. investigators ever “rule out” or “clear” the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a possible source for the coronavirus outbreak.

W.H.O. and Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have been very cordial to the Chinese government throughout the investigation, so the Global Times’ sudden venom toward Tedros for advising another inspection visit to Wuhan is telling. 

“This is an admission of guilt. The CCP knows what they did, and they’re scared,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said after reading the Global Times editorial on Monday.

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