An outspoken senior official in the People’s Liberation Army has claimed that the H7N9 virus is a U.S. conspiracy designed to provoke mass panic. While his remarks were widely forwarded, they were mostly received with amusement and derision online.
Air force colonel Dai Xu is a controversial figure in China, and is one of the more strident and outlandish military hawks. He is given a mass platform for his views, though, by the major regime mouthpieces China Central Television, whose military channel he appears on, and People’s Daily, whose op-eds pages he frequents.
On April 6, Dai was at it again, this time via his microblog, claiming the new bird flu epidemic in eastern China is a U.S. ploy to create instability. He added that China should keep a low profile so it would not be “fooled like in the 2003 SARS incident.”
“At that time ‘M Country’ was afraid China would make a move while it was at war against Iraq and used a bio-psychological weapon [SARS] on China,” Dai wrote, indirectly referring to the United States. In Chinese, America is called Meiguo. “That created massive chaos in China, which was exactly what M country wanted. China must learn its lesson and take it easy this time.”
Netizens were quick to poke fun at Dai’s outrageous remarks. Some said he must be close friends with professor Kong Qingdong at Beijing University, who not long ago claimed that the capital’s smog problem is a “meteorological war” waged by the United States.
Others joked that America must have also tainted China’s baby milk formula, and thrown masses of dead pigs in Chinese rivers.
Another Internet user asked, “How many scumbags like Dai Xu are there in the People’s Liberation Army?”
Online columnist Liu Yiming, formerly a reporter with Wuhan’s China magazine, told the Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio Network that national anxiety over the virus is actually due to the authorities’ deliberate concealment of the epidemic.
“Whether there will be social panic has nothing to do with other countries,” Liu said. “It all depends on whether the information in China is transparent; blocking information and issuing phony announcements are the root cause of social panic.”
At the end of his latest outburst, Dai said that H7N9 bird flu “can’t kill that many people, not even one-thousandth of the number killed in car accidents,” although he later deleted this comment.
Prominent economist Han Zhiguo, who has more than 4 million fans on his blog, described Dai as “anti-humanity.”
Political commentator Su Ming described Dai in severe terms in an interview with SOH. “Whoever makes such comments in this lofty tone is completely immersed in the evil nature of the Communist Party,” Su said. “There is not a single moral fiber remaining. A responsible government should hold itself responsible, even if only ONE of its people died of unknown causes.”
Read the original Chinese article.
Translated and researched by Hsin-Yi Lin. Written in English by Cassie Ryan.
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