Chinese social media platforms were sparked by a conspiracy claiming that COVID-19 was made by an American lab in Ukraine.
The origin of this fake news comes from an article published on Wednesday by GlobalTimesa Chinese Communist Party tabloid, titled “British Research Reveals COVID Was Manufactured by American Company.”
On Twitter’s Chinese counterpart Weibo, a thread about the article went viral: it was viewed by over 1.67 billion users and generated 292,000 comments.
the article of GlobalTimes posits that the paper is “a little closer to the truth” about the origins of the coronavirus disease. He said the Russian army has “a lot of evidence in Ukraine” that US-affiliated laboratories would produce biological weapons.
” Among [les 36 laboratoires en question]It was also found that the United States uses bats to study coronaviruses and has produced components for biological weapons. GlobalTimes.
Picked up by 45 other Chinese media outlets, the article GlobalTimes does not provide any documents or visual evidence to support its disclosures.
On Weibo, many users expressed outrage at the United States, calling for an investigation and demanding that its leaders be executed.
If the origin of these rumors circulated by the Chinese tabloid remains uncertain, they appear to originate from Infowars. This US conspiracy website claimed earlier this month that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would attack Ukrainian cities where US laboratories producing biological weapons are located. This false information was picked up by Russian and Chinese media.
The US has 336 laboratories in 30 countries under its control, including 26 in Ukraine alone. It must fully account for its biological military activities at home and abroad and undergo multilateral verification. pic.twitter.com/vEiytBRKuo
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) March 8, 2022
The presence of such laboratories on Ukrainian soil, however, was denied by two American fact-checking websites, Politifact and FactCheck.org.
Since 2005, the United States has had an agreement with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health: they provide technical equipment aimed at improving the country’s network of public health laboratories and its safety. Social media users misrepresented the goals of this agreement, which falls under the US Biological Threat Reduction Program, claiming that it was used to fund labs that would produce biological weapons.
Fake news about the origin of COVID-19 has been circulating on social media since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, a Chinese city, in 2019.
The hypothesis of the animal origin of COVID-19 is almost beyond doubt: two studies reveal that it was a zoonosis in the live animal market in Wuhan, China, that triggered the pandemic that has infected more than 477 million people to date.
If many thought the release of COVID-19 resulted from a lab leak, the mathematical probability that this market was not the true source of the virus is 1 in 10 million, according to researcher Michael Worobey.