FILE – In this June 8, 2018, file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Just months after clearing the way to rule in perpetuity president and ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is best by a wave of economic, foreign policy and domestic political challenges. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
Chinese officials are learning the hard way that propaganda and the heavy handed tactics they use on their own citizens won’t fly on the world stage. The coronavirus has thrust the country and its leadership into the global spotlight and their inexperience shows.
Last week, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tried to advance the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. Army when 300 soldiers traveled there in mid-October for the Military World Games. On Thursday Zhao sent the following tweets:
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.
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!
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. https://t.co/LPanIo40MR
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
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
These allegations began following a February press conference held by Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan. He told reporters that, “Though the COVID-19 was first discovered in China, it does not mean that it originated from China.” That opened the door for men like Zhao to start spinning their tales.
An article in The Scientist says that “Lijian has also retweeted a link to a known conspiracy site that claims the virus may have originated at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick in Maryland, which was shut down in August after biosafety lapses with a number of pathogens. The website goes on to speculate that the virus went from Ft. Detrick to e-cigarettes to Hawaii to Wuhan. There is no evidence the pathogens in Maryland ever left the lab and there’s an equal lack of evidence supporting any of the other claims.”
These wild allegations have been circulating on Weibo, which is a popular Chinese social media platform. It’s likely that some Chinese people believe them. The smarter ones, who know what their government is capable of, probably don’t. But, they go along with it because those who speak the truth in China have a funny way of disappearing.
Giulio Meotti, of The Gatestone Institute, reports that the Chinese regime has announced plans to publish a book in six languages about the outbreak that portrays President Xi as a “major power leader” with “care for the people.”
The book is entitled, “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combatting COVID-19 in 2020” and Fox News describes it as “a mishmash of glowing state media reports on the accomplishments of President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party and the dominance of the Chinese system in fighting the crisis.”
Julian B. Gewirtz, a scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard spoke to The New York Times. He said, “The conspiracy theories are a new low front in what they clearly perceive as a global competition over the narrative of this crisis…This small cadre of high-volume Chinese officials don’t seem to realize that peddling conspiracy theories is totally self-defeating for China, at a moment when it wants to be seen as a positive contributor around the world.”
Anyway, on Friday morning, US Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell summoned China’s ambassador, Cui Tiankai, to the State Department to discuss his country’s “blatant, global disinformation campaign.”
A senior State Department official told CNN that Stilwell “gave a very “stern representation” of the facts to the Chinese ambassador, who was “very defensive.” The official added, “the State Department believes that China is seeking to deflect criticism for its role in “starting a global pandemic and not telling the world.””
Here is a video of Cui leaving the meeting. He doesn’t seem too happy.
Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai leaving State. He was summoned earlier this morning. pic.twitter.com/u02KhwCrXK
— Rich Edson (@RichEdsonDC) March 13, 2020
Chinese officials are acting as if the origin of the coronavirus is actually unknown which is just completely crazy. A second spokesperson from the Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, said “there were varied opinions on the origin of the virus in the international community. China always considers this a scientific question, which should be addressed in a scientific and professional manner.”
Their tactics aren’t entirely unlike the Democratic Party’s, are they?
President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien spoke at the Heritage Foundation in Washington last week and said, “There’s lots of open source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals that the doctors involved were either silenced or, or put in isolation or that sort of thing so word of this virus could not get out…If we had been able to sequence the virus and had the cooperation necessary from the Chinese, had a WHO team been on the ground, had a CDC team which we’d offered been on the ground, I think we could’ve dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world.”
He “blasted the Chinese government, and said their “cover-up probably cost the world two months to respond.”