torsdag 26. mars 2020

China Is Now Blaming a Lone US Cyclist For Coronavirus

A Chinese state-run newspaper is pushing an unfounded conspiracy theory that a U.S. military athlete was the patient zero of coronavirus. The Global Times, citing known U.S. conspiracy theorist George Webb, claims that the virus was manufactured in a U.S. military lab and brought to China by a cyclist who took part in the World Military Games in Wuhan in October. The claim is part of a wider effort by the Chinese government to change the narrative about the origin of the coronavirus, as the Trump administration continues to label the pandemic as the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus.”

The conspiracy theory linking the outbreak to the U.S. athletes’ visit to the games in Wuhan was first promoted by foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who tweeted about it earlier this month. It was then repeated by other officials and by state-run news outlets. It appeared that Beijing was standing down from its conspiracy push earlier this week, when China's ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai dismissed the conspiracy theory as “crazy” in an interview with Axios.

But on Wednesday, Beijing doubled down by publishing the claims first put forward by Webb.