China Tosses Blame For COVID To U.S. As It Nixes Deeper Wuhan Quiz
When a conspiracy theory started circulating in China suggesting that the coronavirus escaped from a U.S. military lab, it had largely stayed on the fringe. Now, the ruling Communist Party has propelled the idea firmly into the mainstream, Austin Ramzy and Amy Chang Chien reported for the New York Times.
Photo Insert: Research being conducted on SARS-CoV-2 virus preparation in a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Md.
This week, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman repeatedly used an official podium to elevate unproven ideas that the coronavirus may have first leaked from a research facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
A Communist Party publication, the Global Times, started an online petition in July calling for that lab to be investigated and said it gathered more than 25 million signatures.
Beijing is peddling groundless theories that the United States may be the true source of the coronavirus, as it pushes back against efforts to investigate the pandemic’s origins in China.
The disinformation campaign started last year, but Beijing has raised the volume in recent weeks, reflecting its anxiety about being blamed for the pandemic that has killed millions globally.
The efforts to emphasize American malfeasance have sometimes backfired. After Chinese state media quoted a Swiss biologist who warned that the WHO effort to examine the origins of the pandemic would become a tool of the United States, the Embassy of Switzerland in China said the expert appeared to be fictitious.
“If you exist, we would like to meet you!” the Swiss Embassy tweeted. “But it is more likely that this is fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts.”