Wild coronavirus conspiracy theories are spreading across Chinese social media sites with the help of the Chinese government, including that COVID-19 originated in the United States, China's not to blame for the global crisis, the U.S. is hiding the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S., and on and on.
According to The Washington Post, now that the virus has spread to Italy, the U.S., and elsewhere, the Chinese government appears happy to “call out missteps” in these countries’ response efforts as well.
“Go on WeChat, go on Weibo, look on Baidu search, and it’s full of ‘look at all the other countries getting sick,’ or ‘the virus came from the United States,’ or all different levels of conspiracy theories,” Xiao Qiang, adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information, told the paper.
The professor said it’s no coincidence that the Communist Party appears all too eager to take part in advancing anti-U.S. propaganda to deflect anger from its own people about how the government covered up information about the outbreak during its initial stages.
“It’s more than just some disinformation or an official narrative,” he said. “It’s an orchestrated, all-out campaign by the Chinese government through every channel at a level you rarely see. It’s a counteroffensive.”
The frenzy kicked into overdrive Feb. 27 after Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese pulmonologist who has appeared on state media to deliver key pronouncements, made a passing remark during a news conference, without offering any explanation, that “the coronavirus first appeared in China but may not have originated in China.” […]
The rumor mill ramped up. Influential Weibo accounts such as “Beijing Things” circulated a Taiwanese television clip showing a pharmacologist speculating about the United States as the contagion’s origin. Writers at popular outlets on WeChat churned out theses laying out how the U.S. military could have deployed the pathogen as a clandestine bioweapon during a trip to Wuhan in October.
By Wednesday, Zhong’s comments came full circle. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not speculate as to the virus’s origin or name any countries, but he cited Zhong’s comments to conclude that China was never proven to be the origin. (WaPo)
The report comes as liberal U.S. journalists have started denouncing references to COVID-19 as "the Wuhan virus" for being racist.
It’s accurate . Shut up. https://t.co/uqvxIp8m5a— Matt Vespa (@mVespa1) March 9, 2020
Zika, Ebola, Lyme disease, German measles, Spanish flu, Reston virus, West Nile virus, Hong Kong flu are/were all fine tho? https://t.co/w2n6AK7siu— Christine Rousselle ?????? (@crousselle) March 9, 2020