China has reportedly launched a Wuhan coronavirus information war across Twitter, more than doubling the number of official government tweets since January including 90,000 posts since April, and recently pushing the conspiracy theory that the virus came from a U.S. government lab.
NBC News reports that the Chinese government has launched a massive Twitter information campaign, more than doubling the number of official government tweets since January and in recent days attempting to spread a conspiracy theory that the Wuhan coronavirus came from a U.S. government lab.
On May 8, the spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry posted a sweet that has been liked more than 4,000 times which reads: “The #US keeps calling for transparency & investigation. Why not open up Fort Detrick & other bio-labs for international review? Why not invite #WHO & int’l experts to the US to look into #COVI19 source & response?”
The military houses and studies infectious diseases at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
The #US keeps calling for transparency & investigation. Why not open up Fort Detrick & other bio-labs for international review? Why not invite #WHO & int'l experts to the US to look into #COVID19 source & response?
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) May 8, 2020
Chinese accounts have published more than 90,000 tweets since the beginning of April from 200 diplomatic and state-run media accounts in a massive Wuhan coronavirus information war according to a study of data collected by the Hamilton 2.0 dashboard of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a tool aggregating accounts connected to the Chinese government.
Analysis by Bret Schafer, the digital disinformation fellow at the alliance, based in Washington, D.C., found that Twitter output from China’s official sites has almost doubled since January and the number of diplomatic Twitter accounts has tripled to 135 from 40 accounts at this time las year.
Schafer stated that the Chinese accounts “have become more aggressive, more conspiratorial, and the ones who have done that are their most popular accounts and have by far the most engagement.”
Schafer said that the Twitter account for the Chinese Embassy in France “has significantly more followers than the embassy in Poland, for example, because the embassy in France has been a driver of the most aggressive content.”
The Fort Detrick conspiracy theory has been tweeted more than 30 times from official Chinese diplomatic and state-run media accounts over the past two months according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
On March 12, Zhao Lijian, the spokesman and deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s Information Department, who has been one of China’s most prolific officials on Twitter, tweeted: “It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
One day later he tweeted that there was “Further evidence that the virus originated in the US,” linking to a post on Global Research, a Canadian blog which argued that the virus could have originated from the U.S. and leaked from Fort Detrick. The blog post has since been taken down but a cached version can be found online.
Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, commented on China’s conspiracy about Fort Detrick stating: “Obnoxious and childish as this is, it should be noted that such Chinese statements have generally mirrored earlier American statements. Rhetorically, China is counterpunching — not throwing the first blow.”
He added: “The primary goal of this rhetoric is to demonstrate to Chinese domestic constituencies that the Communist Party is not lying prostrate before American accusations.”
Read more at NBC News here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org