Trump administration pushes UN to name Wuhan as the origin point of the coronavirus (and China is furious)

The United Nations security council has been trying to put together a joint statement about the coronavirus. The Unites States decided to push for some clarity in that statement about where and when the virus began, i.e. Wuhan, China in November of last year. Those edits have outraged the Chinese government which called the statements “groundless accusations.”

Talks among U.N. Security Council nations over a joint declaration or resolution on the coronavirus have stalled over U.S. insistence that it explicitly state that the virus originated in Wuhan, China, as well as exactly when it started there. China’s diplomats are enraged according to the diplomats, even as they seek to put their own language into the statement praising China’s efforts to contain the virus…

The U.S., in various drafts and edits circulated among the countries, sought to insert references to “the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, Hubei province in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in November 2019.” The PRC is China’s formal name…

Those demands have hit a wall with China, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, whose diplomats accused the U.S. of “irresponsible practices” in a blistering email to other nations’ diplomats this week obtained by NBC News.

“We are astonished by the choice of the United States to use this opportunity for politicizing the outbreak and blaming China, which we strongly oppose,” China’s mission to the U.N. wrote. “The groundless accusations and malicious fabrication from the U.S. aim at shirking its own responsibilities, which severely poisoned the atmosphere of global cooperation in containing the outbreak.”

Near the very end of the story, NBC News finally decides to mention why the Trump administration is doing this:

In Washington, the Trump administration has bristled at an unsubstantiated suggestion by China’s Foreign Ministry that it might have been the U.S. Army that brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.

And that’s it. NBC reduces this to just an “unsubstantiated suggestion.”  I can’t tell if author Josh Lederman is a hack or simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about. What I can say is that he has dramatically minimized a Chinese propaganda effort that has been ongoing for weeks. The Washington Post reported on the Chinese government’s encouragement of conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus back on March 5. Even then some experts said it was an orchestrated campaign.

In recent days, run-of-the-mill mockery of the White House has taken a darker turn as the Chinese Internet became inundated by the theory, subtly stoked by the Chinese government, that the coronavirus originated in the United States. The U.S. government, one version of the theory goes, has been covering up mounting cases, and perhaps thousands of deaths, by classifying them as regular flu…

“It’s more than just some disinformation or an official narrative,” said Xiao, the founder of China Digital Times, a website that regularly publishes leaked directives from the party’s propaganda department. “It’s an orchestrated, all-out campaign by the Chinese government through every channel at a level you rarely see. It’s a counteroffensive.”

The NY Times reported on the Chinese propaganda effort on March 14. By that point, there was no doubt that the communist party was directly pushing this propaganda both inside and outside of China:

China is pushing a new theory about the origins of the coronavirus: It is an American disease that might have been introduced by members of the United States Army who visited Wuhan in October.

There is not a shred of evidence to support that, but the notion received an official endorsement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose spokesman accused American officials of not coming clean about what they know about the disease.

Here’s what China’s foreign ministry spokesman was saying on social media services. The Times reports this message was seen over 160 million times in China (the same message appeared on a separate social media site inside China because Twitter is blocked there).

Clearly the battle taking place at the UN is a continuation of this ongoing propaganda effort which China has been pushing for nearly a month. This isn’t just finger-pointing among nations, this is China using its substantial media resources to spread a lie at the expense of the United States. Now China is angry because the U.S. is refusing to let them get away with it. That’s actually good news. China’s lie is not only cynical and offensive it’s dangerous. If China convinces a significant portion of its own populace that the U.S. spread the virus that killed their countrymen, that could have real implications for the world going forward.

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