“Racists and arsonists”: Canadians upset by Epoch Times say China is the source of the virus, which has made it a biological weapon

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The Epoch Times, a free newspaper generally found in street clubs, is criticized for advancing a conspiracy theory about the origin of the coronavirus – and putting it directly in the mailboxes of unsolicited people.

Some Canadians who received it in the mail and a postal carrier who says it has to deliver it are angry with a special eight-page edition of the document exploring the idea that the virus causing COVID-19 has been created as a biological weapon and arguing it should be called “the CCP virus”, a reference to the Chinese Communist Party.

People from Oakville, Etobicoke, Markham and Toronto, Ontario. all reported obtaining copies of a special edition of The Epoch Times, as did residents of North Vancouver and Kelowna, British Columbia, and Winnipeg. It is not certain that all of these documents were delivered by Canada Post.

Lisa Armstrong in Kelowna found a copy in her rural mailbox.

“That’s when I’m annoyed or suspicious. It’s like, why is it in my mailbox? You expect to see this stuff online on social media, ”she said.

“He seemed to be hinting at conspiracy theories like, you know, maybe it was made, this virus was made in the laboratory. Well no. We know scientifically that this is simply not true. “

A copy of The Epoch Times was delivered to Lisa Armstrong in Kelowna, British Columbia, although she is not a subscriber. (Submitted by Lisa Armstrong)

Scientists have repeatedly stated that the evidence indicates that the coronavirus is of natural origin.

Jason Kindrachuk, Canada Research Chair in Emerging Viruses at the University of Manitoba, says that by studying the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, scientists can see that it is similar to d other bat coronaviruses and that it probably evolved naturally.

“There is an incredibly high consensus within the scientific community at this point, there is, there is very close to zero, if not zero, chances that the virus was ever conceived,” said Kindrachuk.

Armstrong also feared that messages from the Anti-Communist Party on the issue could ignite racial tensions in Canada during the pandemic.

“It’s really racist and inflammatory,” said Armstrong. “And right now, we’re all scared. We are all vulnerable. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Then someone who starts playing on these fears, [it’s] a very dangerous thing to do right now. ”

Problem sent to “specific neighborhoods”

It is not known how many households in Canada have received the document.

Cindy Gu, the publisher of The Epoch Times, declined to say how many copies of this issue have been distributed. In an email to CBC News, Gu said the publication was distributing copies to “specific neighborhoods”.

“The Epoch Times recently” sampled “copies of a special edition on the cover-up of Beijing that has led to a global pandemic in some areas because we consider this information to be important to Canadians. We view this sampling as an act of good citizenship, ”she wrote.

“This is a standard way to increase brand awareness and recruit new subscribers. “

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Gu disagrees that the document will fuel racism against people of Chinese descent.

“Some people have mistakenly confused criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with criticism of the Chinese people,” she wrote.

“Understanding the difference is vital and will eliminate racial tensions, because people understand that the criticism of the manipulation of the virus is from the CCP, not from the Chinese people.” “

Who’s behind The Epoch Times

The New York-based Epoch Times is part of a group of organizations led by the Epoch Media Group, which also includes the Shen Yun Dance Troupe and the New Tang Dynasty TV channel. He says it operates in 23 languages ​​in 35 countries.

This article, which asked whether SARS-CoV-2 was originally a biological weapon, was of great concern to a Kelowna woman who received the paper, as well as to a postman from Canada Post. (Submitted by Carol Harman)

A sociology professor says that The Epoch Media Group is affiliated with the Falun Gong movement, a religious group that started in China and was declared illegal and “sect” by the Chinese government in 1999. His followers say that the Chinese government is persecuting them and oppresses their religious rights.

“Falun Gong practitioners have started to organize a large-scale demonstration[s] against the Chinese government’s attempt to suppress this practice. So that has evolved into this very adversarial relationship between the Chinese government and this religious group, “said Xiaoping Li, a professor at Okanagan College who studies the media that serve the Chinese Canadian diaspora.

“There are many stories of how members of the group were persecuted in China. There could be some exaggeration but … there is certainly persecution and human rights violations. “

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As for The Epoch Times, Li says it is not clear where the group gets its funding, but he can afford to hire journalists who speak English and Chinese in the many countries where it operates.

Typically, what’s going on is mostly funded by donations, in a dissident Chinese community, in a given local context, “said Stephen Noakes, a lecturer at the University of Auckland who studies Chinese culture. The people who make up the newspaper itself are also normally drawn from this background or are acquaintances of the local Falun Gong community.

Noakes said that Falun Gong was “extremely adept” in using its various media platforms “to its advantage to draw attention to its own plight as a major human rights issue of which the world should be aware . “

“I think the local reports are generally reliable. They report on what’s going on, for example, in Vancouver, Toronto or New York, “said Li.

But Li says his reports on China are less reliable. The Epoch Times is “Chinese anti-government media, so you have to be careful that there can be exaggerations.”

The head of a nonprofit that studies disinformation and disinformation says that The Epoch Times uses a well-known technique to sow doubt in people’s minds.

“Core of Truth”

“The most effective misinformation is the one with the core of truth, the one that flies under the radar, doesn’t really break the guidelines,” said Claire Wardle of First Draft, who educates journalists and others on misinformation is and how to spot it. “It’s much more hyperpartisan. This is much more misleading than completely false lies. “

The Epoch Times has shared misinformation and conspiracy theories in the past, and has been banned from advertising on Facebook for trying to circumvent political spending rules – although it is not alone in accusing China of concealment of coronavirus.

Wardle says that people who read the special edition of The Epoch Times may not be completely convinced of its conclusions, but will have questions about what their government is telling them.

It is a technique of disinformation actors who want people to question authoritative sources as much as possible, “she said. In the end, you no longer go to your trusted site or to WHO or your government, even for information. You say to yourself, “I can’t trust anyone. “”

The carrier objects to the delivery of the paper

It was an article about a possible link between biological weapons and the coronavirus that raised the alarm for a Toronto postman when he saw the special edition appear in his mail station on Friday.

Lots of The Epoch Times are waiting to be delivered to a Canada Post station in the Toronto area. The special edition of the document has raised concerns among Canadians who speak of content they view as racist and hateful. (Submitted by a Canada Post factor)

CBC News is not naming the carrier because it is concerned about losing his job at Canada Post.

“They say the coronavirus is part of a biological warfare program by the Chinese people. This is too much for me, “he said.

“I saw the headlines on the thing and my heart sank because I thought the world right now is full of fear and confusion and the last thing people need is this kind of hatred . “

The carrier told CBC News that his supervisors had decided that the carriers would not have to deliver him and that the station manager supported the decision. But then, according to the carrier, the superintendent learned that Canada Post had considered the paper as a political item and that carriers who did not deliver it would be disciplined.

“To be honest, it gives me the impression that … humanity is facing an existential crisis. And I am forced to distribute weapons in a cage fight, “said the carrier.

Canada Post said in an email to CBC News: “We understand the reaction to this publication. However, as a Canadian postal system, we are legally required to deliver it. Content is the sole responsibility of the publisher. “

“Anyone affected by its content should contact the publisher, file a complaint against the publication through the appropriate institutions, or place the article in the recycling box,” the email continues.

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