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Communist China revives propaganda claim that the US Army unleashed COVID-19

Sgt. Valerie Hodges, 68W Combat Medic Medical Readiness Detachment Camp Blanding Fla., hands a test sample off March 26, 2020. (US Army photo by Sgt. Leia Tascarini)
January 21, 2021

This week, China again repeated its March 2020 propaganda claim that the U.S. Army brought the COVID-19 coronavirus to Wuhan, China and created the global pandemic. The propaganda claim comes in response to a Jan. 15 report by the outgoing Trump administration, raising the possibility the COVID-19 outbreak came from a Wuhan virology laboratory.

During a Monday press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying dismissed new allegations raised by the outgoing Trump administration State Department. Hua described the State Department’s report as a show of “Last-day Madness” by the outgoing Trump administration and countered with her own remarks suggesting the COVID-19 pandemic was actually created by the U.S. military.

“If the United States truly respects facts, it should open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, give more transparency to issues like its 200-plus overseas bio-labs, invite WHO experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States, and respond to the concerns from the international community with real actions,” Hua said.

Hua’s comments come months after another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lijian Zhao, began claims the U.S. Army unleashed COVID-19. Zhao tweeted “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”

The first coronavirus cases were reported in Wuhan, China and in November, a panel of the World Health Organization (WHO) said it would be “highly speculative” to suggest COVID-19 did not emerge in China.

China has also blocked international investigators looking into the origin of the virus and only began allowing WHO scientists into the country this month, The Guardian reported.

The outgoing State Department’s fact sheet reported the WIV had conducted experiments on a bat coronavirus strain with a 96.2% genetic similarity to COVID-19. The report also claimed past infections in Chinese laboratories have led to disease outbreaks, such as a 2004 outbreak of another coronavirus strain, SARS, in Beijing.

In her remarks on Monday, Hua said the State Department report “Is based on neither science nor facts to claim that the novel coronavirus comes from a lab or that the WIV has a secret military background. The ideas and information in this so-called fact sheet are contradictory and full of mistakes. It cannot hold water. Almost all top scientists and disease control experts in the world, including those from the United States, have openly rejected such theories.”

For months, China observers have reported what they see as a Chinese propaganda effort, assisted by similar Russian and Iranian propaganda campaigns, to shift blame for the coronavirus outbreak away from China and on to the U.S. The reported propaganda campaigns focused on two claims, that the virus did not begin in China, and that it was instead a bioweapon created by the U.S.

Just weeks after Zhao first iterated the claims the U.S. Army may have brought COVID-19 to Wuhan, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected U.S. offers for coronavirus aid and said, “Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more” and suggested U.S. doctors may only be offering to come to Iran “to see the effects of the poison they have produced in person.”