The Chinese Communist Party’s Pandemic Playbook
(Minghui.org) A restaurant located on Taiyuan Shopping Street in the heart of Shenyang City, Liaoning Province hung up an anti-US and anti-Japanese banner on March 22, reported a UPI article on March 24. The banner read, “Congratulations to the United States for the outbreak of COVID-19. We hope the infections moves smoothly into little Japan and continues forever after that.”
The local police launched an investigation into the matter, and a Chinese newspaper was cited by the UPI article as saying, “COVID-19 is a disaster, and the common enemy of mankind regardless of race, geography or nation. We must act in unison with hostility against a common enemy and must not be happy to witness the disaster of others.”
The banner may have been taken down, but the underlying sentiment of patriotism and nationalism is a reflection of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s propaganda of casting itself as a victor in the fight against the pandemic and bashing other countries for their “failure” in handling the crisis.
The CCP's brainwashing propaganda that the CCP is superior and other countries are bad (or anti-China) has not only misled people inside China, but also extended its tentacles to Chinese living outside the country, many of whom didn’t bother to learn the culture and value systems of the West. They stuck closely with the Chinese community, read Chinese media, and turned a deaf ear to the free media in the West. These people are the easiest to fall victim to the massive misinformation put out by the CCP’s internet army on social media.
In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, the CCP is taking advantage of the Chinese people’s patriotism and nationalism, and using that sentiment to re-direct people’s attention from how the CCP has done poorly in managing the epidemic to how other countries are “discriminating” against the Chinese in their “mishandling” of the pandemic.
Chinese-Americans' “Self-Defense” Groups
A few weeks ago, a video of a few Chinese being attacked in New York began to circulate on WeChat, a Chinese social media platform that has over 1 billion monthly active users. While some users questioned the authenticity of the video, most messages and posts that soon followed condemned the US for its “anti-China stance” and its “discrimination against Chinese-Americans.”
Fearing being attacked because of their ethnicity, many Chinese in the US formed “self-defense” groups and bought guns to protect themselves.
A WeChat group in California called the “Irvine Chinese Armed Self-Rescue Team” posted the following statement to its members, “We own a variety of firearms and protective equipment. If any group member’s home is invaded, our volunteers will bring the firearms to his home and protect him against the intruders.”
Their action soon drew a warning from the local police. They later issued another message on the WeChat group on March 18, saying that “The Irvine police have warned us that any individual group who implies that they have law-enforcement power is disguising itself as the police, and it’s illegal to do so.”
Karie Davies, the spokesperson for Irvine police, told Voice of America on March 26 that although it’s legal for American citizens to own firearms, these groups and their actions are “evoking extreme panic among the Chinese community.” She said they haven’t received any report of Chinese people being attacked in the community.
She suggested that if these Chinese people could form volunteer groups to help elderly people do grocery shopping, they would be very welcomed.
Overseas Chinese Flee to China for Safety, Only to Face Accusations of Poisoning Their Homeland
While the above mentioned Chinese chose to purchase guns to protect themselves, other overseas Chinese rushed back to China to seek “safe-haven” when new cases are surging in their adopted countries and the CCP has claimed “victory” in the fight against the virus.
Some of the Chinese made the decision to return to China after seeing another message on WeChat, which has appeared in groups in Japan, France, Inner Mongolia, and the US.
This message, with exactly the same content but different country names, described the horrible situation in “each country” that “countless people are denied treatment in the hospitals and died at home.” The authors said that “they” just bought tickets to go back to China to “to concentrate our resources on doing big things.”
Although it’s not clear what the “big things” the “authors” of the messages were referring to, it seems like these messages appeared in a coordinated fashion targeting the Chinese people living overseas.
As soon as they landed in China, however, most people were directly taken to hotels and forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Many of them were appalled by the horrible living conditions in the quarantine hotels.
Even worse, the CCP pitted people in China against the returning Chinese. Some people in China started to blame the latter for bringing trouble to the country and cursed them: “You were not here during the country’s development, but you are the fastest to fly thousands of miles back to poison China.”
Pitting One Group Against Another
The CCP's tactic of pitting one group of people against another is nothing new. The communist regime often employs the tactic to maintain power and achieve its political goals.
According to a document published by WikiLeaks, a Chinese soldier who participated in the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4, 1989 revealed that, shortly before they were sent to Tiananmen Square, news spread in the army that 100 soldiers had been killed by the students.
The troop quickly conducted a head count, and they found that they were indeed missing about 100 soldiers.
The soldiers were mad. When the order to shoot was given, the soldiers unleashed machine gun fire at the crowds; more than 1,000 people were killed.
Later on, the 100 “killed” soldiers re-appeared. This particular soldier was shocked. He said he felt ashamed from being deceived and shooting unarmed civilians as a result.
Twelve years after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the CCP staged a self-immolation hoax at Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001 to incite hatred against practitioners of the spiritual practice, Falun Gong.
The news of the “self-immolation incident” was aired on TV non-stop. Many Chinese people believed it and turned hostile against Falun Gong from then on.
While the CCP was successful at pitting one group against another in some circumstances, it has often found itself having to put out fires when more and more people come to realize its brutality and its disregard for human life. In order to maintain stability and power, the CCP has also used another tactic, which is to divert attention to other countries.
In 2012, when the CCP was facing unprecedented domestic economic and political crisis, a wave of protests against Japan suddenly erupted across China for the Senkaku Islands dispute between China and Japan.
A person who witnessed the initial demonstrations in Beijing recounted that the demonstrations were clearly orchestrated by the authorities and the police were in fact directing protesters where to go and what slogans to shout during the march.
The CCP's attempt to divert attention away from its domestic crisis backfired, when positive reports about the demonstrations triggered more protests in several cities that turned violent and became a new domestic crisis.
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the entire world, the CCP is facing growing calls to hold it responsible for starting the crisis. To divert attention, the CCP began to spread rumors that pinned the blame on other countries.
Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne revealed that Chinese diplomats and agents have been given secret orders to try to persuade people to believe that the coronavirus originated outside of China, according to an article titled “De-Sinicizing the Virus: How CCP Propaganda Is Rewriting History,” published in Bitter Winter on March 9, 2020.
Mr. Introvigne's article was motivated by an email he received from a Chinese colleague asking whether he was safe from the “Italian virus.” He found out later that his Japanese friends also received similar emails asking if they were affected by the “Japanese virus.”
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted on March 12 that the U.S. Army may have brought the virus to Wuhan. Zhao's comments were soon rebuked by the U.S. government.