As CBS News correspondent Ramy Inocencio reports, Beijing has waged a relentless campaign to blame the United States for the news. end of 2019.
The Chinese government is angry at what it describes as Western efforts – led by Washington – to blame the pandemic on China, and Beijing’s criticism of the impending U.S. intelligence report has become more acute in the years. days leading up to its expected finalization.
One line of attack that has been repeated in Beijing is that Washington will simply use the intelligence report to fabricate lies supportingthat the virus escaped from a government high-security laboratory in Wuhan.
The origin of COVID-19 is a hot topic in China, and the pushback against the lab theory is all over the country. In some cases, this is even a literal pushback: Our CBS News team on the ground were pushed and pushed around by unidentified people as they attempted to gather information in Wuhan.
Several men prevented our team from interviewing Wuhan-born Zhang Hai at his home last week, de facto placing him under house arrest and preventing anyone from entering or leaving.
We last met him in person in January, when he dared to sue the Wuhan government over his father’s death from COVID. He was told to shut up if reporters called him.
Speaking to CBS News via Zoom from his home, Zhang said he believed Wuhan was the starting point of the global pandemic.
But in China, this kind of speech is akin to betrayal because it directly contradicts the official Beijing narrative.
Despite the world’s first known COVID cases emerging in Wuhan, Chinese officials and their allies, including Center for China and Globalization vice president Victor Gao, accuse the United States of engaging in “a conspiracy, “trying” to identify the origin in China. “
Gao, a longtime commentator on China’s foreign affairs, insisted to CBS News that the coronavirus “existed before the Wuhan outbreak in other parts of the world, including, quite logically, in states. United, centered on Fort Detrick ”.
Few Americans even know that the US military’s biological weapons program – which was officially shut down in 1969 – centered on the military base near Washington DC, but in China, Fort Detrick is famous. There’s even a rap song demanding that she be investigated over unsubstantiated rumors, pushed by Chinese commentators, that she may be the true Ground Zero of COVID-19.
Yang Xiyu, a senior researcher at the China Institute for International Studies, says there is evidence that COVID started outside of China.
“You can’t say it’s impossible” that COVID could have emerged in Europe or the United States, Yang told CBS News.
Many experts agree that it may never be possible to determine with certainty the origin of the pandemic.
The World Health Organization wasafter its in January, deepening complaints outside China about the lack of access and transparency since the onset of the health crisis.
When asked if he thinks the world organization should be allowed to return to further investigate, Yang suggested that no investigation would reveal new truths, and that the truth might not be there anyway. ‘goal.
“If the second investigation doesn’t provide evidence on the Wuhan lab, then do you need the third one?” Even the fourth? he said.
The steady rhythm of propaganda channeled by domestic experts – China’s propaganda machine – is clearly working.
“They are intimidating us,” a Wuhan resident said of the WHO and US investigations. “They intimidate the Chinese. Investigate again and again. “
Another told CBS News that the United States is trying to blame China.
“The origin was not in Wuhan, it is from the United States,” said a third person in the city, repeating the claim that the virus was “brought here” by American servicemen traveling to Asia.
While CBS News was in Wuhan, the same vehicles followed our crew for the three days of filming. The same men were still seen sitting in the lobby of our hotel and outside, trying to take pictures.
Chinese officials know that not everyone accepts the Communist Party line. And that includes Zhang Hai, who has remained a frequent target of China’s surveillance campaign since he first spoke out last year after his father’s death.
“I hope the US investigation will lead to sanctions for Chinese officials and comfort for the families of the victims,” he told CBS News.
The US intelligence report on the origin of the coronavirus was to be in the hands of President Biden as early as Tuesday. It was not known when or what the public will actually see, but Beijing was certain to attack any further criticism and continue to push its “anywhere but China” narrative on the origin of COVID-19.