Does China owe the United States money?

China blames the US for the coronavirus outbreak : How disinformation works in times of Corona

At first glance, this sentence looks like one of the usual conspiracy theories that are now circulating on social media about the coronavirus. "It could be the US army that brought the epidemic to Wuhan," wrote Zhao Lijian on Twitter on Thursday. The US therefore owed China an explanation. But Zhao Lijian is not just anyone. He works as the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry and is considered one of the most prominent and also most controversial voices of the People's Republic in the West. The story behind this sentence is a lesson in disinformation.

The leadership in Beijing apparently wants to sow doubts that the pandemic began in China. It was Chinese scientists who attributed the outbreak in China to a market in Wuhan and found evidence that the coronavirus could originate from bats.

One day after his tweet, Zhao added: “This article is very important for each of us,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman wrote on Twitter, referring to a text titled: “More evidence that the virus originated in the United States ".

In a second tweet he recommended a similar text, and it sounded a bit like an influencer was promoting a post so that it would get clicked as often as possible: “It's so amazing that it has changed a lot of things that I used to believe in would have."

The Chinese diplomat asks again to retweet the text, "so that more people can hear about it".

Zhao now has more than 370,000 followers on Twitter. His English-language contributions are aimed at an international audience. For China's citizens, however, Twitter is blocked.

The alleged think tank saw the CIA as the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks

The texts that the diplomat recommends so enthusiastically refer to the “Military World Games” that took place in Wuhan in October last year. Members of the US team could have brought the corona virus to the city at the time, it says.

The source for both texts is an alleged think tank in Canada, the "Center for Globalization Research", or "Global Research" for short. This center, which was founded in 2001 in Montreal by the Canadian economist and globalization critic Michel Chossudovsky, is regarded as the mouthpiece for numerous conspiracy theories: the attacks in the USA on September 11 were actually planned by the CIA, the Americans had the terrorist organizations Al Qaeda and the Islamic State funded, and the measles vaccine kills many more people than the measles itself.

Jewish organizations in Canada accused Chossudovsky of tolerating anti-Semitic contributions in a discussion forum on the centre's website.

Russia's state media also used this source

This center and its website could be dismissed as one of the more obscure corners of the internet. But it is not only the authoritarian-ruled China that makes use of its supposed expertise. Russian state media also repeatedly quoted articles from “Global Research”, particularly in 2014 and 2015, when the Kremlin tried to influence public opinion in the West after the Russian intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

Background about the coronavirus:

The center in Canada reported entirely in the spirit of the Kremlin. Ukraine wanted a “real war against Russia” announced the propaganda broadcaster RT, citing “Global Research”, and the “coup” in Kiev had been prepared long before the protests on the Maidan. The center apparently became part of the Kremlin's disinformation campaign during the war in Ukraine and later in Syria.

Russian state media are now also picking up on the tweet from the Chinese Foreign Office spokesman and reporting in detail on the alleged trace of the corona virus to America.

All of this brings back memories of "Operation Infection" in the 1980s: Back then, the Soviet secret service KGB and the Stasi purposefully spread the rumor that the new disease AIDS was developed as a biological weapon in a US laboratory. A first such report appeared in a newspaper in India that had long before been founded by the KGB. This action is one of the most famous disinformation campaigns - and shows which textbook authoritarian states like Russia and China still work according to today.

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