- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 18, 2020

A media research group has released the transcript of a China-produced Arabic-language news report to show how Beijing’s propaganda machine is blaming the coronavirus on America.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which monitors TV and social media in the Arab world, focused on a March 17 broadcast of “China View” on Beijing’s Global Television Network Arabic (CGTN), which overall has 14 million viewers.

The Middle East is an increasingly ripe target for China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to build ports, highways and even cities to gain inroads into the oil-rich region and to compete with the U.S.

Scientists say the virus first emerged in Wuhan in December. Suspected sources are a wild animal market or a nearby bio lab that has been researching the coronavirus carried by bats.

The TV show host, “Ms. V,” takes the Arab world through a number of unproven conspiracy theories that all point to the U.S. as the source of COVID-19, the disease that has infected and killed more than 160,000 people worldwide.

“Initially, many thought that the beginning of the virus’ emergence was from one of the seafood markets in Wuhan, but Chinese researchers reported in a new research that the transmission of the new coronavirus had started since last December outside this market,” she said, according to MEMRI

“The virus may have transmitted from a source or other sources to the seafood market, where the rapid spread of transmission began due to the presence of a large number of close contacts within this place, and the research also reported that the virus had started spreading after the Wuhan International Military Games ended in October 2019. So, it is expected that the ‘patient zero’ in China has come from outside China,” she continued.

There is no evidence for this propaganda, according to researchers.

On the “China View” program, according to MEMRI, “Ms. V” also attributed some of these claims to an outside news source from a U.S.-aligned nation.

“The Asahi Corp. of Japan published a report in the past days indicating the possibility of new cases of coronavirus in the United States among deaths caused by influenza infection and the US government recently recognized this possibility. This news has caused a widespread debate on social media about the possibility of the virus being transmitted to China from abroad during the period of the Military Olympic Games in Wuhan, which was attended by 109 countries, including the United States,” she said.

On April 4, Robert Boxwell of the South China Morning Post published an article designed to disprove Chinese Communist Party’s free-flowing propaganda.

Asahi Corp., a television broadcaster, has denied the existence of any such article, Mr. Boxwell found. Secondly, a scientific report that does exist and is cited by “Ms. V” never says that the virus came from outside China.

As for the U.S. military planting or transferring the virus while at the Military World Games in October, the World Health Organization (WHO) told The Washington Times there is no evidence.

In her broadcast, Ms. V also brings up the fact that last year the Army’s bio research laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland, was shut down.

Actually the lab — certified as a level 3 and 4 facility to handle the world’s most dangerous toxins — was partially closed on recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because of a breach of sanitation procedures. The lab reopened this spring and is doing research into the coronavirus.

Mr. Boxwell points out that conspiracies promoted by China’s Arabic TV are repeated by various Chinese media accounts on Twitter and other platforms, gaining millions of views.

“One wonders how much longer Washington will conti­nue fighting the information war against Beijing with one arm tied behind its back. Chinese media enjoy free run of the U.S., including on Twitter,” he wrote. “The U.S. has no such freedom in China.”

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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