Some Chinese media outlets also spread outright falsehoods—including a claim that the virus originated in the United States.
The virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year.
Meanwhile, the Chinese regime’s recent official figures have reported a decline in infections, though internal government documents obtained by The Epoch Times and eyewitness accounts show that authorities have been underreporting cases.
This past week, the United States reported cases of community spread for the first time—cases of unknown origin, whereby patients did not have recent travel history to virus-stricken countries or have close contact with infected people.
Harping on US Outbreak
Chinese state media took the opportunity to highlight the U.S. outbreak.
On March 4, state-run outlet Xinhua re-published a blog post titled, “With justice on our side, the world should thank China.”
“Now the United States is in turmoil. More and more states have declared a state of emergency, while the whole country is extremely short on medical supply. A coronavirus epidemic is almost inevitable.”
The article went on to explain that U.S. reliance on supply chains in China proves that the former needs the latter to contain the virus. “Most facial masks in the U.S. market are made and imported from China… The majority of medicine in the U.S. is imported from other countries… If China bans exports to the United States, the latter will enter into hell caused by the coronavirus.”
Furthermore, the article claimed, the United States and other countries should thank China because China did not ban travel to and from the United States, which “would have damaged the American economy severely, and cause the U.S. stock market to crash.”
Many generic drugs and other pharmaceuticals in the United States are indeed manufactured in China. The current outbreak and resulting global shortage of medical supplies have exposed the problem with concentrating the world’s supply chains in a single country, China.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in a Feb. 23 interview with Fox News that Chinese authorities were exacerbating the shortage by placing export restrictions on N95 masks produced by Chinese factories belonging to American firm 3M.
“[China] nationalized an American factory that produces them [the masks] there,” he said.
On Feb. 24, Chinese state-run newspaper Securities Times published an article based on unverified claims made by Paul Cottrell, who according to his online bio, is a finance PhD based in New York. He posted a YouTube video claiming that sources told him more than 1,000 people have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in the United States.
As of press time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced 80 infections, excluding Americans who were repatriated from elsewhere and tested positive for the virus.
Using Cottrell’s claims as its basis, the Chinese article claimed that the U.S. CDC was hiding the true scale of the U.S. outbreak.
Chinese media also began spreading a claim that the virus originated in the United States.
It started when China’s top virology expert Zhong Nanshan said at a press conference on Feb. 27 that there was a possibility the novel coronavirus did not originate from China.
That same day, a Taiwanese politician named Pan Hwai-tzong said during a television program that aired on the pro-Beijing cable channel EBC News: “The coronavirus is from the United States.” Pan is a councillor from Taipei city, and a professor at the Taiwan National Yang-Ming University.
Chinese media republished this claim by Pan. Some professors in mainland China have since clarified in media interviews that Pan’s comments have no scientific basis.
Taiwanese netizens and media also criticized Pan for pandering to Beijing.
U.S.-based China commentator Tang Jingyuan said he believes the Chinese regime is purposefully using the U.S. outbreak to mislead Chinese citizens about the current outbreak within its borders.
“We clearly see that the coronavirus epidemic in China is very severe, which is totally different from what government authorities claim. Chinese people see for themselves what is happening around them,” Tang said.
Thus, the Chinese regime hopes to shift people’s focus to the United States as a distraction.
“It tries to fool people into thinking the virus is from the United States, and have Chinese people show hatred toward the U.S. Then, they won’t think about what the Beijing regime is doing,” Tang added.
And by emphasizing severe outbreaks outside China, “it can tell people that China has a better system,” Tang said.