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China’s Coronavirus Conspiracy Machine

What is the number one thing that a communist regime must do? Lie. For the officials in China, this is a near daily operation. Whether it’s in their economic statistics, reports measuring the health of their environment, or the extent to which a pandemic has affected the nation, you can count on the Chinese government to deflect, avoid blame, create statistics out of thin air, or simply blame the United States as part of a global conspiracy theory. This is what the regime has been up to as of late with regards to the coronavirus.

On March 12, Lijian Zhao, the Spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry Information Department, retweeted a post from a twitter account containing the message: 

“CDC director openly admitting that some #covid deaths have been misdiagnosed as influenza in the US. The question is when are those deaths. This supports the claims made by Japanese scientists that the virus originated from the US but was covered up.”

Next, he retweeted a similar post, this time from one of his cohorts at the Foreign Ministry, Spokesperson Hua Chunying, who said:

“Dr. Robert Redfield: Some cases that were previously diagnosed as Flu in the US were actually #COVID19. It is absolutely WRONG and INAPPROPRIATE to call this the Chinese coronavirus.”

Finally, Lijian Zhao made his own comments, tweeting:

“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!”

In what reads like an attempt at gaslighting the entire country, Lijian Zhao has led the way for Chinese authorities and state proxies to openly spread anti-American conspiracy theories pertaining to the origin of the coronavirus. In this case, not only did the virus supposedly originate from America, but it was sent to China by means of our military. Zhao followed up with another incendiary tweet

“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.”

This ignited a twitter firestorm that has since made Zhao a center of attention as he has weaponized his Twitter account into another front for Beijing. It is not clear what spurred this sudden shift in coronavirus messaging from China’s top officials. Some have argued that the seeds were planted by Zhong Nanshan, who in late-February made the claim that the coronavirus “may not have originated in China,” which the communist party was able to latch on to. Such claims were also being made on WeChat, Weibo, and Baidu, popular Chinese apps and websites that were spreading the claim that the virus originated in the US.

Curiously, Zhao’s retweets, along with his own incendiary posts, were all made on March 12, the day after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. It is possible that as a result of the WHO declaration, China’s response was an attempt to avoid greater international culpability and amp up their social media countermeasures. It could also be true that China just lost their last useful tool in the WHO to present itself as competently managing the outbreak.

Earlier, on January 12, the WHO had stated that there was “no clear evidence of human to human transmission” of the coronavirus, and that they were “reassured of the quality of the ongoing investigations and the response measures implemented in Wuhan, and the commitment to share information regularly.” We have since learned that as the virus was spreading across China, communist party officials in Beijing deliberately “sought to downplay and control news about the virus, even threatening medical whistleblowers with arrest.” The ease with which the WHO fell for the communist party’s propaganda has raised questions about its independence and proficiency, especially since its Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus keeps praising China’s efforts as “making us safer” even while any accurate information remains wanting, and those who do try to report on what is going on are made to disappear.

Using PC Culture Against Us

The Chinese regime’s promotion of COVID-19 conspiracy theories didn’t end with Zhao. The Chinese Ambassador to South Africa and the Beijing based China Xinhua News also decided to weigh in, but the context of their messaging was aided by the latest round of PC outrage in America.

A considerable amount of time and energy has been devoted by US media outlets and woke twitter personalities in saying that to call the coronavirus the “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus” is an act of severe racism and xenophobia. COVID-19’s origin in Wuhan, China, and the use of both terms as a synonym for the coronavirus, doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference for the online scolds in making their determination of racism. Neither does the existence of the Zika virus, Lyme disease, Asian flu, or Russian flu, which are all named after the respective locations in which they originated. And yet, because of our moment of spiteful political polarization, there are also those who use the terms “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus” merely to “own the libs” and feel proud about themselves. 

As one can infer from the sage quality of this raging online debate, it has been made into something of a political shibboleth for the social media tribes of left and right. This created an exploitable avenue for China’s Ambassador to South Africa, who tweeted on March 16:

“More evidence suggests that the virus was not originated at the seafood market in Wuhan at all, not to mention the so called “made in China.” 

This was followed up later that same day with an image from China Xinhua News which contained the message: “Racism is not the right tool to cover your own incompetence”

Playing off of American concerns for racism and xenophobia, China’s new message is making gestures at such PC worries and using our polarization to further their conspiracy theories. This should be highly disconcerting for any American worried about national security and domestic tranquility. By exploiting our current weaknesses, China is opening up a path for certain Americans to give more favor in their direction as part of a progressive desire to stay “woke” in times of national distress. And it is made all the more obvious that China is doing this to influence American minds because twitter is banned for their own citizens. Only select government officials and organizations are allowed to use the platform. This means that the conspiracy-mongering tweets can only be spread on mass by China’s twitter bots and foreign sympathizers.

China Xinhua News followed up with another tweet on March 18th, continuing their tacit promotion of anti-American conspiracy theories with the guise of PC culture: 

“The White House desperately needs a scapegoat for its ineptitude in fighting the #coronavirus. China, unsurprisingly, seems to fit the bill. But scapegoating is neither something new nor something helpful.”

While Beijing’s proxies continue to try and garner sympathy by means of PC rhetoric, the messaging on the social media front seems to contradict the actions of the regime itself. For despite China’s assurance that the virus originated in the US, which would imply that there was no influence from any Chinese wet market, the Communist authorities still initiated a temporary state-wide ban on all wild animal trade in February. Strange behavior from a regime vindicating itself of any COVID-19 charges. And stranger still that they took the exact same measures back in 2003 when SARS broke out, which also originated in China.

The Cover-Up

So why has China engaged in conspiracy-mongering and flipped our PC rhetoric against us? Because it serves as a useful distraction from the utter failure and embarrassment of Beijing’s response to the disease. Moreover, it saves the brand image of the country as Xi Jinping is trying to promote Chinese nationalism.

As was reported by the Chinese publication Caixin Global, scientists in Wuhan had already finished genomic sequencing of COVID-19 when the Chinese authorities came in and ordered them to stop all testing, destroy their samples, and stay silent. According to the London Times, “A regional health official in Wuhan…demanded the destruction of the lab samples that established the cause of unexplained viral pneumonia on January 1. China did not acknowledge there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later.” Ever since the report from Caixin Global went public, the Chinese censors have been busy trying to scrub it off the internet. This means that the Chinese authorities had the opportunity to study and control the coronavirus months before it became a world-wide outbreak. But instead of trying to manage the disease right away, they decided it would be a better idea to avoid yet another disease related international disaster and issue gag orders on the doctors and researchers in Wuhan.

The whistleblower on the whole cover-up operation, Dr. Li Wenliang, who has since become a hero for speaking truth to the Chinese censors, was also ordered to stay silent and was even accused by the state of “making false comments” and spreading rumors when he tried to warn his colleagues of the disease. In January he had contracted the coronavirus and was killed several weeks later. After Chinese outpouring over his death, two hashtags which were trending on Weibo, “Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang an apology” and “We want freedom of speech” were quickly censored. 

[The Coronavirus Whistleblower Who Gave His Life]

Journalists and other reporters in the Wuhan area have also been arrested, silenced, or “disappeared.” Two citizen journalists, Fang Bin and Chen Qiushi, have been posting videos, pictures, and updates online of the situation in Wuhan; as of mid-February, their YouTube channels have gone silent, Qiushi’s social media accounts have been deleted, and no one seems to be able to find them. Rumors say that they have both been forcibly quarantined, though it is just as likely that they have been arrested as they have a history of being harassed by the authorities.

As the cover-up operation continued, China’s censorship of information and silencing of dissidents helped to serve another purpose: legitimizing the regime. One of Xi Jinping’s biggest concerns has been to ensure the loyalty of the people to the Chinese Communist Party. In this effort, Beijing has been aggressively promoting Chinese nationalism to both bolster support for the government and to act as a means of international intimidation. Supporting this effort has been made a responsibility of Chinese news outlets as well, with the contents of various articles seeing an increase in the subject of nationalism over the past two years. Given this objective, the last thing that Beijing needed, at a time where its citizens in Hong Kong had just made a loud effort to push back against CCP transgressions, was to be embarrassed any further by having another disease outbreak on its hands. Any information that would make the regime look bad or incompetent had to be suppressed. But with the scale of this virus, and the nature of social media communication in the 21st century, simply putting a positive spin on China’s response to COVID-19 wouldn’t be enough. Thus, to help their own nationalistic efforts, they have tried to place the blame on America and have spun conspiracy theories about our military into its state sanctioned platforms. 

This behavior should be wholly rejected by the American people. No credence should be lent to Beijing, their messaging, or their attempt to smooth over international blame by launching this disinformation campaign. American officials in Congress and our media outlets need to push back on this vile propaganda. This is a despicable performance from Beijing, and their incompetence has claimed the lives of thousands of people around the globe and is threatening to shut down world economies. Permitting this rhetoric to go unchecked is a disgrace and should be rebuked at every level.  

The Real Origin of COVID-19, For the Record

As far as we know, this virus originated in a Wuhan, China wet market. A wet market, particularly in China, is an open market that sells a variety of fresh fish and wild animals; these wild animals include snakes, raccoon dogs, bats, turtles, deer, alligators, porcupines, civets, and a number of other creatures that no human ought to be eating. The very nature of this business means that the aforementioned animals, which may contain any number of diseases, are kept in close contact with one another, making it extremely likely for a disease found in, say, a bat, to jump to a civet cat, as happened in the 2002-03 SARS outbreak. Moreover, because these creatures are kept in cages that are stacked one on top of the other, this allows for all sorts of animal excrements from the cages on top to fall down and drench the animals in the cages at the bottom; sanitation is not a concern in these markets. Those animals are later slaughtered (often in front of the customer) and sold on the market. Contact with the animals at every step of this process is how the virus was transmitted to human beings.

At the moment, the best information we have surmises that the virus was transmitted either by a bat, a snake, or a pangolin. Researchers are leaning more towards the bat. According to USA Today, “Gene sequencing analysis strongly suggests the virus originated in bats and was transferred to humans through a yet-unidentified intermediary species.” That “intermediary species” is believed to be the pangolin, though that has yet to be confirmed. From here we get our COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chinese Regime Deserves the Blame for This

The disaster that followed in China, both political and humanitarian, is all on the hands of the Chinese authorities. When they had the opportunity to study and control the disease months before it became a pandemic, they decided to destroy all evidence of its existence and to censor its health officials from discussing it. They knew that the disease could be spread by human-to-human transmission, but they refused to disclose that information. They could have prevented the loss of thousands of lives and offset the resultant economic damage around the world. Instead, as communists are wont to do, they panicked, tried to covered it all up, and started lying to the public. The incompetence of the regime has lead some of their top officials and news outlets to spread conspiracy theories pertaining to the origin of the Wuhan virus so Beijing can further distance itself from any culpability. 

The communist government in China is only interested in one thing: self-preservation. It does not care about the well being of its citizens. It does not care how many people need to be killed in order to get its way. And it has absolutely no interest in being held accountable for the international disaster now at its hands.

Do not let this regime off easy. Do not let the voices of those Chinese citizens crying out for help go unheard. The carelessness of the Chinese regime has led to the deaths of over 10,000 people world-wide. The communist government in China is an evil dictatorship. Do not be fooled by their propaganda machine. 

 

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