Several conspiracy theories peddled by the Chinese government put the blame of the COVID-19 pandemic on the United States.
Zhao Lijian, spokesman of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this week has repeatedly promoted unproven theories that claim the novel coronavirus could have originated from a research facility in Fort Detrick in Maryland.
Chinese Conspiracy Theory
The Chinese government has also demanded Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, to launch an investigation into Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina.
Chinese officials pointed to the closure of a lab at Fort Detrick over safety concerns in August 2019, and to the subsequent deaths recorded at a nursing home in Virginia in July 2019 as reasons for WHO to launch an investigation.
"If labs are to be investigated, then the WHO experts should go to Fort Detrick. The US should act transparently & responsibly as soon as possible and invite WHO experts for an inquiry into the Fort Detrick lab. Only in this way can truth be revealed to the world," Zhao said on Twitter, as reported by Hindustan Times.
A patriotic Chinese hip-hop group called Tianfu Shibian has also promoted conspiracy theories about COVID-19, recently releasing a song with the lyrics: "How many plots came out of your labs? How many dead bodies hanging a tag?"
Beijing's misinformation campaign began in 2020 and has since gained a wider audience in China. The campaign has now been promoted by officials, academics, central propaganda outlets and social media users.
This week's promotion of conspiracy theories come after a U.S. intelligence review ordered by President Joe Biden said it could not come to a conclusion about the origins of COVID-19 due to a lack of information from China, two U.S. officials familiar with the discussion told The Washington Post.
Investigating the Origin of the Coronavirus
In a commentary published in Nature, researchers involved in the investigation said the probe has come to a standstill. They noted that one reason for the pause was because Chinese officials were reluctant to share access to raw data, citing concerns that it may violate patient confidentiality laws.
China has since dismissed the possibility that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is located in the city where the first known COVID-19 outbreak began. Beijing officials have also tightly controlled all data that were handed over to WHO officials, and it rejected the health agency's call for a second round of inquiry into the virus' origins.
"It is impossible for us to accept such an origin-tracing plan," Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission, said, according to NPR.
Many experts have said that they do not think a lab leak caused the outbreak, which eventually led to the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of 4,474,523 people worldwide. However, some point to classified information, first disclosed during the last days of former President Donald Trump's administration, that suggested three workers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were admitted to the hospital in November 2019 with flu-like symptoms, according to Reuters.