A State Department report which is not yet public concludes that Russia, China and Iran have been coordinating their propaganda efforts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. All three countries have been spreading the message that the U.S., not China, is the origin point of the virus.
The three governments are pushing a host of matching messages: that the novel coronavirus is an American bioweapon, that the U.S. is scoring political points off the crisis, that the virus didn’t come from China, that U.S. troops spread it, that America’s sanctions are killing Iranians, that China’s response was great while the U.S.’ was negligent, that all three governments are managing the crisis well, and that the U.S. economy can’t bear the toll of the virus…
One core message has been that China is a strong global health leader and the United States, meanwhile, is a weak ally. Lea Gabrielle, who helms the GEC, told POLITICO that China has also let Russian propaganda efforts targeting the U.S. spread throughout its country — where the Beijing government’s internet censorship is notoriously relentless.
“What we saw as the health crisis started to come under control in China is that the CCP really started pushing a concerted effort to try to reshape that narrative,” she said, using the acronym for the Chinese Communist Party. “So in a short period of time the CCP went from letting Russian disinformation claiming the U.S. was the source of the virus proliferate in Chinese social media, to raising questions on state media about the origin’s source, to promoting disinformation that the U.S. was the source of the virus.”
The fact that this is circulating inside China as well as being pushed outside China suggests the goal here is to protect Xi Jinping from the potential backlash within China which was clearly building after the death of Dr. Li Wenliang in February.
The article points to a particular conspiracy theory involving Bill Gates as the creator of a U.S. bioweapon which was published by a news site run by Russia’s military earlier this month:
There are many theories about the origin of coronavirus and the further development of events. The most popular one concerns the monstrous prediction of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. Last year, he said that 33 million people could die from such a coronavirus in 250 days. The calculations are purely mathematical, but true, the IT tycoon is sure.
After such statements, adherents of conspiracy theories literally have no doubt that the virus is of artificial origin, and Bill Gates is one of its main sponsors. Another fact adds weight to this theory – a few months ago, the head of Microsoft held a conditional exercise called Event 201, which simulated an outbreak of a new virus that killed 65 million people in 18 months. The idea of the teachings is simple – globalization in the name of salvation.
Russia’s RT also published a story quoting an Iranian military leader speculating the virus was actually a U.S. bioweapon:
The US сould be the prime culprit behind Covid-2019 outbreak that hit China and then Iran, head of its elite Revolutionary Guards claimed, threatening that the virus will eventually be turned against those who unleashed it.
“It is possible that this virus is a product of a biological attack by America which initially spread to China and then to Iran and the rest of the world,” Hossein Salami said on Thursday.
As I pointed out here, there was briefly some push back from within Iran about the credibility of China’s coronavirus numbers but that was quickly shut down.
It’s good to know that the State Department is paying attention to this convergence in messaging. Hopefully we’ll get to see the full report at some point. Politico notes that before the virus the only thing all three states shared in common was opposition to the U.S. position on Venezuela. Now that they’ve found it useful to combine their efforts against the U.S. on the coronvirus, we’re probably going to see a lot more coordination in the future, including possibly during the 2020 election.