Chinese state media conspiracy theories and allegations which have suggested it was actually the United States that first infected Wuhan province with deadly coronavirus via a US Army covert operation were "made official" this week by words of Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lijian Zhao.
Lijian Zhao claimed in a tweet that "It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan," citing prior televised testimony by CDC Director Robert Redfield in which he said that early COVID-19 cases were mistaken for regular influenza.
The US State Department said on Friday it has summoned the Chinese ambassador to rebuke China’s “blatant, global” disinformation campaign on the novel coronavirus.
Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai leaving State. He was summoned earlier this morning. pic.twitter.com/u02KhwCrXK— Rich Edson (@RichEdsonDC) March 13, 2020
Fox News reports:
A senior State official told Fox News that Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell called in Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai over China’s “blatant, global” disinformation campaign on the novel coronavirus.
Ambassador Tiankai was seen leaving the State Dept. building on Capitol Hill late this morning. He did give reporters any official comment on the meeting with US officials, which was no doubt testy.
“Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation,” Lijian had further demanded in the prior controversial statements which triggered the diplomatic row.
1. Chinese spox: We hope certain US officials could focus on domestic response & international cooperation instead of trying to shift the blame to China by denigrating Chinese efforts to fight the epidemic. This is immoral & irresponsible, & will not help mitigate COVID-19 in US. pic.twitter.com/YBA5fZhPsU— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
But he wasn't alone. Days ago China’s ambassador to South Africa also suggested Chinese cities which early on became the global epicenter of the outbreak were likely infected from the outside.
“Although the epidemic first broke out in China, it did not necessarily mean that the virus originated from China, let alone 'made in China,” Amb. Lin Songtian tweeted.
The English messages coming out of Chinese diplomats and officials in online social media statements appear deliberately aimed at a foreign audience, which is what has reportedly further angered Washington officials.