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This post was edited by LinCH at 2020-4-28 01:23|
Conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID19 have been a subject of furious discussion. The dangerous ones fall into two broad categories. One camp claims that Americans caused the outbreak in Wuhan while the other points its finger at the Chinese government. Sources of the first camp are not just Chinese people, they comprise other nationalities including Americans who are anti-government or anti-vaccination. The other camp consists mostly of Americans especially those of conservative, white supremacist leanings.
It has to be noted that before Chinese spokesman, Zhao Lijian, tweeted on March 12 that American troops could have introduced the virus into Wuhan, no Chinese officials were known to have propagated such theories. On the other hand, common level extremists in the US and some countries were not the only ones openly saying the virus could either have leaked accidentally from a Chinese lab or that they were manufactured and purposely released, prominent figures like American Senator Tom Cotton floated those theories repeatedly, as President Trump and his cabinet members slandered and stigmatised China at every opportunity.
Moreover – among other things – on January 24, two articles from The Washington Times claimed the virus was part of a Chinese biological weapons programme at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Washington Post (a different newspaper), subsequently, published an article, citing US experts who explained the Institute was unsuitable for bioweapon research, and that most countries had abandoned bioweapons as fruitless. It further said there was no evidence the virus was genetically engineered, but the damage had already been done and the articles fired up and fuelled similar stories.
In February, the British Conservative MP, Tobias Ellword, chair of the Defence Select Committee, questioned the role of the Chinese Army's Wuhan Institute for Biological Products in public and called for "greater transparency over the origins of the coronavirus". Also, Britain's tabloid, Express, suggested the coronavirus was a bio-weapon, leaked from a Chinese research lab. Manish Tewari, a spokesman for the Indian National Congress then retweeted the Express article to more than 380,000 followers and added a highly charged twist: "The disease is a terrorist act".
Zhao Lijian's tweet was a response to such provocations by influential people and only suggested other possibilities, as he brought attention to the comparable significance of the stories. It was a reminder that important politicians like President Trump and Secretary Pompeo, have to speak with a sense of responsibility.