China militarizes pandemic disinformation & propaganda

J Michael Waller / Center for Security Policy / March 31, 2020 – Beijing has now militarized its pandemic propaganda. The Chinese military has laid out a strong, harshly anti-US line, blaming the United States for the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and saying that the world should be grateful to the Chinese regime for its generosity and sacrifices.

This line is important to understand so that it can be detected, exposed, and refuted as it sinks into mainstream journalism and political discourse in the US and worldwide. It is also important to understand so as to avoid comments and gaffes that the CCP can use against us.

The People’s Liberation Army spelled out its case in English for non-Chinese speakers to follow, building on themes officially set by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP is still stinging from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s masterful indictment of the Party as being responsible for the deadly pandemic.

Here are the PLA’s main themes, which the CCP has already spelled out elsewhere, as the Center has documented. All quotations are from the same March 30 China Military Online article:

  • China was responsible and open from the start. “China has regularly informed the US of the epidemic information and its prevention and control measures since January 3, but the US didn’t announce a ‘state of national emergency’ until March 13,” says. Points:
  • Trump is shifting blame ‘in a racist manner.’ “Trump has downplayed the epidemic repeatedly in public, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reacted slowly, the government’s information release is neither open nor transparent, and some officials have been trying to shift the blame to China and divert public attention in a racist manner.”
  • Trump wasted ‘precious time bought by China for the world.’ “The Trump administration’s lack of action and responsibility and its squandering of the precious time bought by China for the world at immense sacrifices are the root causes of the massive outbreak in the US.”
  • Trump made ‘improper and misleading remarks about the pandemic.’ Trump is the source of disinformation – not China; he “send serious information,” the article says, adding, “The State of Utah coronavirus task force labeled what Trump said as disinformation. . . .”
  • America’s ‘lack of openness and transparency’ means USA is responsible. “Since the epidemic began to sweep across its homeland, the US government has taken a self-deceiving approach in total disregard of the US citizens’ and the international community’s concerns. It has been berated by the international community for ceasing to announce key information, including COVID-19 testing, its retarded responses, and non-transparent information, which are highly irresponsible for the international efforts against the pandemic.” This section is subheads, “Lack of openness and transparency in pandemic information indicates irresponsibility to the international community.”
  • American health system’s ‘slow response is a direct cause’ of pandemic. “The [US] health system’s slow response is a direct cause for the quick spread of the pandemic,” the PLA article says.
  • Trump’s budget cuts are to blame for pandemic. “The disbanding of the global health security and bio-defense office by the Trump administration in 2018 is believed to be one reason why the country has reacted so slowly to the pandemic,” the PLA says, purporting to cite Dr. Anthony Fauci and others.
  • US pulled CDC worker from China and cut CDC budget. “In July 2019, the Trump administration revoked the position held by Linda Quick who was assigned by the American CDC to work in China, and no other expert was assigned since. If the position were not revoked, the notifications from China to the US in early January might have attracted enough attention at the White House. Besides, the American CDC announced, during the COVID-19 outbreak, its budget report for the fiscal year of 2021, which fell by 28.7% to USD5.56 billion from USD6.84 billion in 2020.”
  • Trump protects ‘the wealthy and the powerful’ in major human rights abuse.”The US response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a total pandemonium, but what’s most outrageous is that rich people and celebrities have priority to testing, according to an article published by New York Times on March 18. Hollywood stars can quickly book an outpatient doctor over the phone, many A-listers go to private clinics, and those who have been tested are close with the president, including Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republic senator and Trump’s golf buddy, and Mark Meadows, a Republican member of the North Carolina House of Representatives and the future White House Chief of Staff. When asked whether the well-connected should get expedited testing, Trump answered at a White House press conference ‘perhaps that’s been the story of life. That does happen on occasion.’ . . . While getting tested seems so easy for those with a deep pocket or connections, it is almost impossible for ordinary Americans.”
  • America has abandoned its founding principles and UN ideals. “The US has posed as a world guardian of human rights and prided itself on that, claiming equality and liberty to be its core values since the first day it was founded. However, the double standards it practiced during the COVID-19 prevention and control have violated ordinary Americans’ right to health.It is an immoral defiance of human rights that is against the Declaration of Independence, the cornerstone of the nation, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of the World Health Organization.
  • Trump is ‘politicizing the pandemic,’ ‘shifting blame,’ and ‘shirking responsibilities.’ “The Trump administration has been using the pandemic to attack political rivals at home and viciously smear China in the international community.Trump took domestic criticisms of the White House’s poor response to the epidemic as a political movement orchestrated by the Democratic Party, calling coronavirus ‘the Democrats’ new hoax.’ Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, even told conservative activists directly that journalists are so interested in the pandemic because they think that’s going to make the president step down.”
  • ‘The virus is seen as a weapon’ against POTUS. “FOX News commented ‘increasingly for President Donald Trump, a member of his family, and his administration officials, the virus is being seen as a weapon the president’s enemies hope to use against him,’ while CNN said, ‘Pence’s habit of repeatedly pouring praise over the President’s role in the crisis so far … in itself politicized the response effort.’”
  • New York Times seen as ‘conservative media’ accusing CCP of human rights abuses. “Outwardly, some American officials and conservative media smeared China’s anti-virus efforts under the disguise of ‘democracy and human rights’ and stigmatized the country. New York Times called China’s city lockdown ‘undemocratic,’ ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘violating human rights,’ and US government officials took turns in making racist remarks against China.”
  • Trump allies are ignoring what UN’s WHO tells us all to say. “Pompeo and McCarthy kept turning a blind eye to WHO’s rules on virus nomenclature, Trump personally changed ‘coronavirus’ in his speech into ‘Chinese virus,’ and the White House is launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that focuses on accusing Beijing of orchestrating a ‘cover-up’ and creating a global pandemic.”
  • The virus isn’t from China. “Coronavirus was first identified in China, but that didn’t mean it originated in China,” the PLA says.
  • American politicians are putting their money first. PLA devotes space to attacking Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) for dumping $1.7 million in stock “in early and mid-February before the epidemic broke out and the stock market collapsed, while all the time reassuring the public that the epidemic could be kept well under control.” No criticism of Burr’s colleague, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who reportedly made similar transactions but is soft on CCP.
  • America is greedy and selfish, while the world should be grateful to China. “In the face of the pandemic, certain American officials put making money before saving lives at the expense of public health for all Americans. China’s powerful and effective measures have gained precious time for the world to prepare. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Chinafor its transparent and timely information sharing and said the world should respect and thank China for its anti-virus efforts.”