Chinese Communist Party Spreads Misinformation and Blames the U.S. for Coronavirus Pandemic
(Minghui.org) The World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020. The next day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on twitter, “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!”
He included in his post a video of Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, saying that some flu deaths in the U.S. were later confirmed to be actually coronavirus deaths.
The U.S. State Department summoned Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, on March 13 to protest against Zhao's conspiracy theory suggesting the U.S. military might have brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.
David Stilwell, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, issued a “stern representation” of the US government’s position on the matter to Cui. A State Department spokesman said, “China is seeking to deflect criticism for its role in starting a global pandemic and not telling the world.”
Julian Gewirtz, a Harvard scholar, said of Zhao, “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,” according to a New York Times article on March 13 titled “China Spins Tale That the U.S. Army Started the Coronavirus Epidemic.”
“The circulation of disinformation is not a new tactic for the Communist Party state. The United States, in particular, is often a foil of Chinese propaganda efforts,” the article wrote, “Last year, Beijing explicitly accused the American government of supporting public protests in Hong Kong in an effort to weaken the party’s rule.”
The Chinese Communist Party's attempt to blame the U.S. for the pandemic is not surprising, given its totalitarian nature to maintain power at all costs.
Long-Time Influence and Infiltration
Freedom of belief and democracy are some of America's founding principles, which are fundamentally different from the CCP’s dictatorship and atheism. Since Nixon administration, however, the U.S. has relaxed vigilance against the danger of communism. After the former Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, many western countries hoped that China would become a democratic country with their support and its open-door economic policies.
But this turned out be wishful thinking. Collaboration and assistance from Western countries was viewed as an attempt of “peaceful evolution,” which was considered by the CCP as “the biggest threat to its continuous rule.” On October 26, 2010, selected works from Deng Xiaoping were republished on China Daily with the title of “We must adhere to socialism and prevent peaceful evolution towards capitalism.” Deng wrote the piece on November 23, 1989, nearly six months after he ordered the Tiananmen Massacre.
Deng’s successors, Jiang Zemin and others, continued his directive to adhere to socialism and prevent capitalism. On the one hand, they portrayed the U.S. as being “Anti-China Forces” and intensified communism ideology; on the other hand, they worked with Western countries for economic gain by selling cheap labor and products, forming a global supply chain.
By downplaying ideological differences, the CCP highly promotes global market and “community of common destiny.” “China is engaged in a three-pronged campaign of subversion in the United States” known as “Blue-Gold-Yellow,” wrote The Washington Free Beacon in an article on October 9, 2017, with a title of “Dissident Reveals Secret Chinese Intelligence Plans Targeting U.S.” Blue represents large-scale Chinese cyber and internet operations, gold standards for money and financial power, while yellow refers to corruption through sex.
Together with heavy propaganda, the CCP has nearly silenced criticism from western society for the Tiananmen Massacre as well suppression of Falun Gong, Uighurs, the Hong Kong democratic movement, and others.
As Thomas Jefferson explained, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Such neglect and acquiescence came with a price. Outside China, Italy and Iran have the highest number of coronavirus infections. A closer examination suggests this may not be accidental.
After China proposed a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, many viewed it as expansion of China's economic and political influence from East Asia to Europe. Ignoring such concerns that BRI could be a Trojan horse for China-led regional development and military expansion, Italy became the first (and only) G7 nation to join the initiative in March 2019. After 29 deals were signed between the two countries, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister told CNBC, “There is nothing to worry about,” according to an article from cityam.com on March 27, 2019, titled “Italy's trade deal with China is playing with fire.”
Iran also has close ties with China.
“China’s strategic interest in Iran is intensifying. Chinese manufacturers are looking to establish new operations in Iran, and Tehran is viewed as a vital transport and logistics hub,” reported oilprice.com in an article titled “Iran To Become Essential Hub In China’s Belt And Road Initiative.”
“The exact route of the virus is unclear. But Iran’s strategic partnership with Beijing has created a constellation of potential contacts that helped unleash the illness, called Covid-19,” reported the Wall Street Journal on March 11, 2020, in an article titled “Strategic Partnership With China Lies at Root of Iran’s Coronavirus Outbreak.”
U.S. as the Primary Target
The CCP has always viewed the U.S. as the biggest threat, both economically and ideologically.
After declaring the coronavirus disease a national emergency on March 12, 2020, the U.S. President, Donald Trump, announced March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. “I ask you to join me in a day of prayer for all people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and to pray for God’s healing hand to be placed on the people of our Nation,” he said.
Since becoming president in 2016, Trump emphasized many times that in America “we don't worship government, we worship God.” This draws a clear contrast with the totalitarian CCP regime. Furthermore, his efforts to curb the CCP on trade, technology, human rights, and national defense have also angered the CCP.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic only makes the CCP more eager to ramp up its propaganda machine against the U.S., especially given the following factors.
First, although China has claimed to have passed the peak of coronavirus, the censored data does not reflect the reality. The CCP's delayed responses in the initial outbreak and widespread lockdown have generated intense public anger, making the CCP eager to find a scapegoat.
Second, through decades of propaganda, a large internet army, and numerous pro-CCP media outlets outside China, the CCP has successfully manipulated the public opinion against the U.S.
For example, Zhao’s predecessor, Hua Chunying, openly criticized the U.S. on February 3, 2020, for partial withdrawal of embassy staff and travel restriction, calling that “could only create and spread fear.” She also downplayed the epidemic by comparing Chinese coronavirus infection (17,205 cases with 361 deaths) with the U.S. flu season (19 million cases with about 10,000 deaths), while ignoring China’s flu deaths averaging 88,000 per year.
One month after declaring human-to-human transmission of coronavirus, Zhong Nanshan, head of the National Health Commission's Coronavirus Task Force, said on February 27 that the the virus may not have come from China. Government-controlled news media followed closely and pointed to the U.S. as the origin of the outbreak. After the U.S. CDC delegated the coronavirus statistics reporting to each individual state, Chinese media claimed that the U.S. has stopped reporting on infection and death cases.
Third, as the coronavirus disease spreads around the world, Ira Longini, an adviser to WHO, said two-thirds of the world’s population could be infected with coronavirus eventually. Since the public knows that the pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, the CCP feels the urgency to whitewash itself and shift blame to the U.S.
Fourth, if the CCP can pin the blame on the U.S. as the origin of the coronavirus successfully, it would be able to portray itself as a victim instead of an evildoer. As businesses in China are forced to resume operation, were the infection to surge again, the CCP could easily claim that newly discovered cases are imported. Furthermore, it could direct all the public rage towards the U.S. and take tight control to a new level.
CCP's Playbook – Censor, Distract, Lie
China has a large internet army that works to censor citizen-posted information and distract people's attention with government-approved false messages. At various stages of the epidemic, the CCP has shifted its focus of propaganda. For example, when more and more people started to doubt the CCP's coronavirus data, it adopted a new tactic.
An article titled “How China Is Working to Quarantine the Truth About the Coronavirus” on defenseone.com wrote, “The final track typically used to shape online discussion and thereby alter real-world beliefs and actions is to push false narratives. To counter anger about the initial slow response to the outbreak, the regime has insisted that the opposite was true, that the government reacted quickly, that hospital facilities were more than adequate. The authoritarian playbook—censor, distract, lie—is on full display.”
A document for the CCP military army members provide guidance on how they should respond to various scenarios during the coronavirus epidemic, to continuously attack the U.S. Below is an excerpt from the document titled, “FAQ on guidelines for US-related propaganda during the coronavirus pandemic”:
Q: If there is no outbreak in the U.S., what should we do?A: Focus on the angle that coronavirus is a bio-warfare launched by the U.S. against the Chinese people. Beware that only our own, pro-CCP media is allowed to do the propaganda.
Q: If a large-scale epidemic occurs in the U.S., how to handle it?A: We need to emphasize that the American political system is not suitable for epidemic control. In the meantime, we should highly praise the advantage of the political system in China.
China specialist Bill Bishop told MarketWatch that China’s campaign targets both domestic and foreign audiences. “Globally to avoid being blamed for the carnage it is causing in so many countries, domestically to once again [blame] an external force as a way to deflect blame.” Although it is a hard sell to the Western Society, Bishop said many people in China could believe in the rumors due to massive propaganda.
But he also worries that it is beyond simply a public health disaster. “Might this be the first global recession caused by CCP [Chinese Communist Party] mismanagement? Previous Communist Party–led disasters in China since 1949 never really spread outside the PRC’s borders in meaningful ways. Not this time.”
Albert Einstein once said, “If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity.” Coronavirus could be a wake-up call for people to realize the danger of communism.