China has had enough of defending its response to the coronavirus outbreak, and now it’s on the attack, with a top government official boosting a conspiracy theory that the U.S. military brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.
The outlandish claim was made by foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, a firebrand diplomat who was promoted to his current position in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak in China last month and is seen by experts as a rising star in the Chinese Communist Party.
In a tweet late on Thursday, Zhao posted a video of the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Robert Redfield speaking to the House Oversight Committee earlier this week. “Redfield admitted some Americans who seemingly died from influenza were tested positive for novel #coronavirus in the posthumous diagnosis,” Zhao said.
In a second tweet, Zhao then asked:
“When did patient zero begin in U.S.? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent!”
Zhao is referring to a conspiracy theory that has been floating around Chinese social media for weeks. The theory is based on the fact that 300 athletes from the U.S. military attended the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan in October — the city where months later the global pandemic originated.
The theory gained traction after renowned epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan told a press conference on Feb. 27 that although the virus first appeared in China, “it may not have originated in China.”
Zhong subsequently clarified his remarks to say “neither can we conclude that the virus came from abroad” — but in China, only his first remark has been repeated by diplomats and government officials.
Despite widespread criticism of his initial tweets, Zhao has not backed down, posting what he says is further evidence to back up his claim.
This evidence includes several articles published by Global Research, a fringe Canada-based website that peddles in 9/11 conspiracy theories and claims that Hillary Clinton runs a pedophile ring.