J Michael Waller and Fred Fleitz / Center for Security Policy / April 21, 2020 -Since the Wuhan Virus broke out, the Chinese government has waged a disinformation and propaganda campaign to defend the Communist Party leadership and attack the United States.
The Center for Security Policy has been on top of this campaign since the start, documenting and mapping out Beijing’s propaganda lines and policies with linkages to primary sources. Center President Fred Fleitz interviewed J. Michael Waller, the Center’s Senior Analyst for Strategy, who has been running the project.
Center’s pandemic timeline tracks Chinese disinformation
“Our pandemic timeline goes back to when the virus was first detected in November, 2019, and how the Chinese Communist Party reacted at first, then planned ahead for a strategic offensive to exploit the pandemic against the United States,” Waller says in a comment about the interview.
“We do a daily rundown of the Party’s disinformation statements, themes, and buzzwords, the Western responses to them, and how Western media outlets and politicians have picked on those themes to become an echo chamber for the Chinese government,” he explains.
The examples are endless: Not disclosing the human-to-human transmission of the virus when it was known in December, then denying that the epidemic was a danger, getting the World Health Organization to repeat the disinformation as fact, which the international news media would pick up as neutral, expert information that bolstered the Chinese regime’s credibility and prestige. That cost the US and the world precious weeks to prepare for the oncoming pandemic.
Fleitz and Waller discuss how the Chinese regime pressures international journalists, how Washington-based think tanks launder Beijing propaganda themes as if they were their own, and then how mainstream bipartisan foreign policy figures repeat the laundered arguments and buzzwords.
The Party line: Don’t blame the Chinese government
A central argument is that it’s racist to say “Wuhan virus” because it implies that the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for it.
The bottom line, according to the argument, is that nobody should blame the Chinese government for creating the conditions that unleashed the pandemic on the world, and instead everyone should blame President Donald Trump for failing to fight it.
“You can see how Trumps’ opponents and the Chinese Communist Party are working together to influence this year’s elections,” Waller says in the interview.
The Trump Administration has adroitly pushed back with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strengthening the American position and throwing the Chinese regime into confusion. “It’s been shocking to the Chinese because they’ve never had a US secretary of state talk like that before,” Waller says.
Fleitz asks about the effectiveness of Chinese pandemic propaganda, such as blaming the US military. Fortunately that over-reach – plus persecuting the Wuhan doctors who first raised concerns and making at least one of them “disappear” along with Chinese citizen-journalists – has discredited Beijing’s credibility undermined the regime’s legitimacy.
The Chinese regime is responsible for the pandemic. “The Chinese government has to pay, Waller says. “There have to be trillions of dollars in reparations. We have to collect that bill and that bill has to come from the Chinese Communist Party.”