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…

“The conspiracy theories are a new, low front in what they clearly perceive as a global competition over the narrative of this crisis,” said Julian B. Gewirtz, a scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard.

“There are a few Chinese officials who appear to have gone to the Donald J. Trump School of Diplomacy,” added Mr. Gewirtz, who recently published a paper on China’s handling of the AIDS epidemic, after a similar disinformation campaign. “This small cadre of high-volume Chinese officials don’t seem to realize that peddling conspiracy theories is totally self-defeating for China, at a moment when it wants to be seen as a positive contributor around the world.”