by Bill Gertz featuring IWF’s Claudia Rosett
Four months after the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in China, investigators are still no closer to determining the origin of what has now produced a global pandemic.
Dr. Liang Wannian, head of a panel of experts on the virus with the China National Health Commission, recently called the virus “cunning” for its unusual characteristics and told reporters in China last week the origin remains a mystery.
But Chinese state-run media outlets are increasingly been promoting a new disinformation theory that the virus originated in the U.S., reports that have prompted rumors spreading throughout China and Asia that the CIA was behind the outbreak.
The Washington Times first reported in late January that China’s tightly controlled social media was floating rumors that the Wuhan virus was a U.S. biological weapon.
“Thus does China’s propaganda machine showcase and promote a blame-America story, while not quite taking responsibility — since, after all, it is simply filling us in on speculation and rumor,” said Claudia Rosett, a foreign policy fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum.
“In China’s hothouse of state censorship and surveillance, this is a time-tested way to fuel the rumors the [Communist Party] desires to spread, not to stop them,” she wrote in a recent report.
The Trump administration also has uncovered Russian disinformation being spread on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram linking the virus to the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Moscow on Wednesday that foreign forces were spreading disinformation in Russia that the virus is circulating there.
The issue of the virus origin also has taken center stage as social media giants Facebook and Twitter have moved to curb free speech on their platforms about the origin of the virus.