Chinese Communist Party officials and state media are circulating a Chinese rap video that claims the coronavirus pandemic originated in an American military lab in an effort to distract from mounting evidence that the virus emerged in a Wuhan lab leak.
The Chinese paper of record China Daily, propaganda outlet Global Times, and foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian have all circulated the rap video in the past month along with articles and cartoons alleging that the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in a military lab at Fort Detrick in Maryland.
Zhao and Global Times shared a Chinese music video that accuses U.S. officials, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), of covering up the pandemic's supposed Maryland roots. "This RAP song speaks our minds," Zhao tweeted on Aug. 11. "Instead of caring about facts & truth, [the United States] only wants to consume & malign China," Zhao wrote in a separate tweet.
The Chinese social media campaign attacks the House Foreign Affairs Committee report authored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), which offers extensive evidence that the virus emerged in Wuhan as early as September 2019. In one June statement, Zhao—also known as China’s most aggressive "wolf warrior" diplomat— also accused Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) of using disinformation to blur the origins of the virus.
"This is gaslighting in its purest form," Gallagher said in response. "At the same time he spent the last year stigmatizing America.... This is the CCP’s new, crazy propaganda campaign."
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy cited a World Health Organization report from February that concluded a lab leak from Wuhan was unlikely. He also endorsed the Fort Detrick conspiracy theory.
"About Fort Detrick, the [United States] has remained silent on the serious concerns raised by the international community including U.S. media," Liu Pengyu, the spokesman, said. "The U.S. side must understand that the international community has every reason to raise questions about Fort Detrick, which has a poor track record and is notorious for breaches in lab and contaminant leak, and demand clarification and explanation from the U.S. side and call on the WHO to conduct a thorough investigation into it."
The video is only the latest attempt to smear America as the originator of the pandemic. A cartoon montage published on Aug. 9 by Chinese state media includes several pictures suggesting the United States covered up a lab leak at Fort Detrick. One cartoon depicted President Joe Biden asking aides to "find evidence" for a Wuhan lab leak and compared the coronavirus to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Foreign competitors have also adopted the Chinese Communist Party’s propagandistic efforts. Malaysian and Filipino scientists have reportedly called for the United States to open Fort Detrick to investigation through a petition organized by Herman Laurel, a Filipino columnist. A cursory review of Laurel’s social media shows the columnist has consistently promoted Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
China has given no ground to the mounting evidence showing the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan. Beijing scrubbed a recent report from state media that denied the coronavirus began in Wuhan because it cited a Swiss scientist who does not exist. China's foreign ministry responded to the McCaul report by calling it a part of a smear campaign against China.
"The relevant report, totally based on the concocted lies and distorted facts without providing any evidence, is not credible or scientific," the ministry said on Aug. 3. "What the relevant U.S. congressmen have done smears and slanders China in pursuit of political gains. We express categorical opposition to and strong condemnation of such despicable acts that have no moral bottom line."