China

Op-Ed: Look to the Reagan administration for the answer to the China challenge

Op-Ed: Look to the Reagan administration for the answer to the China challenge

H.R. McMaster and Jonathan D.T. Ward

·4 min read
President Reagan in the Oval Office in May 1985.
 
President Reagan in the Oval Office. (Scott Stewart / Associated Press)

Among the best remembered summits of the 20th century are those of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan’s commitment to dialogue with America’s primary adversary and what then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz called his “personal chemistry” with his Soviet counterpart were hallmarks of his presidency. But even more important was the fact that Reagan had a clear strategy for victory in the global contest with the Soviet Union.

Reagan’s approach — applying intensive economic and military pressure to a superpower adversary — became foundational to American strategic thinking. It hastened the end of Soviet power and promoted a peaceful conclusion to the multi-decade Cold War.

Now it is useful to ask if a similar approach would be equally successful in America’s contest with an even more formidable rival, the People’s Republic of China, a challenger with whom the free world’s economies are intertwined and increasingly interdependent.

In 1983, Reagan approved National Security Decision Directive 75, which set the course for an assertive, competitive approach to the Soviets, in contrast to the “live and let live” aspirations of détente. Reagan drew on George F. Kennan’s innovative policy of containment, which acknowledged both the disastrous consequences of a hot war with the Soviet Union and the impracticality of cooperation with a Kremlin driven by communist ideology.

Working from Kennan’s original intuitions, the operational approach that Directive 75 emphasized was “external resistance to Soviet imperialism” and “internal pressure on the USSR to weaken the sources of Soviet imperialism.” Rather than trying to reduce friction with the Soviets as prior administrations had done, Directive 75’s aim was “competing effectively on a sustained basis with the Soviet Union in all international arenas.” Within nine years, the Soviet Union collapsed, worn out by economic pressure, an arms race it could not win and internal political contradictions.

The goal of a competitive strategy versus Chinese Communist Party aggression should be different. The United States and like-minded liberal democracies must defend against the expansion of the party’s influence, thwart its ambitions to dominate the 21st century global economy, and convince Chinese leaders that they can fulfill enough of their aspirations without doing so at the expense of their own people’s rights or the sovereignty of other nations.

These efforts must apply Reagan’s fundamental insight — to win against a rival of China’s magnitude requires sustained pressure against the true sources of the adversary’s power.

China is an economic juggernaut. Through its engagement with the United States and other major markets, it has made itself central to global supply chains, moved to dominate strategic industries and emerging technologies, and built up a military designed to win a war with the U.S. and its allies. Numerous multinational corporations and global financial institutions pump capital, technology and know-how into China. This transfer of capability and competitive advantage can be used against the free world to devastating effect. As the CCP puts it, China is poised to “regain its might and re-ascend to the top of the world.”

To foil China’s plans for preeminence, the United States and its partners should restrict investment into Chinese companies and industries that support the CCP’s strategic goals and human rights abuses. The U.S. should work to block China’s access to Western technology in areas that contribute to military advantage and to construct a new global trade and supply chain system that reduces dependency on China. With India, Australia and Japan, the U.S. must also maintain preponderant military power in the Indo-Pacific to convince Chinese leaders that they cannot accomplish their objectives through threats or the use of force.

In all of this, America and its allies should be confident. At the start of the Reagan administration, the Soviet Union, like China today, appeared to be at the height of its ambitions, exerting influence in every corner of the globe. One decade of focused American strategy helped bring about a peaceful conclusion to what many believed could have been an endless Cold War.

Just as Reagan generated the national and international will necessary to overcome the Soviet challenge, the Biden administration can galvanize efforts to compete effectively with an emboldened China. That effort will bolster the administration’s goal of building back the United States’ strength and prosperity.

The Trump administration’s recognition of that the Chinese Communist Party is a strategic competitor was a crucial shift in U.S. foreign policy. There is now a bipartisan consensus in Washington about the need to sustain a multinational effort to restrict the party’s mobilization against the free world. Applying pressure abroad and fostering growth at home will allow the United States and its partners to prevail in this century’s most important competition, preserve peace, and help build a better future for generations to come.

H.R. McMaster, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, was national security advisor from 2017 to 2018. He is the author of “Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World.” Jonathan D.T. Ward is the author of “China’s Vision of Victory” and the founder of Atlas Organization.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

China Betrays Its Deal with the Vatican

China Betrays Its Deal with the Vatican

Nina Shea

Beijing has quietly indicated that it will soon abrogate its “breakthrough” 2018 agreement with the Vatican, which was meant to settle a decades-long dispute over the appointment of bishops in China.

In November, shortly after exchanging diplomatic notes verbales with Rome to renew the deal for another two years, China thoroughly negated it in a dry public posting by the state bureaucracy. Order No. 15, on new administrative rules for religious affairs, includes an article on establishing a process for the selection of Catholic bishops in China after May 1. The document makes no provision for any papal role in the process, not even a papal right to approve or veto episcopal appointments in China, which was supposed to be the single substantive concession to the Vatican in the agreement. It’s as if the deal never happened.

Reneging on a deal with Pope Francis may not be as consequential as overturning the “one country, two systems” agreement that was supposed to guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy after the city’s return from the United Kingdom to China, but it does reveal the peril of international partnerships with Beijing.

In October, when the two-year renewal of the deal was announced, the Vatican reported that the “results achieved” until then under the agreement were the appointments of two new bishops who had papal approval. Its press statement praised the appointments as “a good start.” “Thanks to the implementation of the Agreement, there will be no illegitimate ordinations,” the statement said, before expressing joy that the Chinese Church would experience “unity” once again. Order No. 15 now casts serious doubt on these claims.

So far, the Vatican has not commented on China’s a stunning betrayal. On February 11, the magazine Bitter Winter translated the document into English, enabling the Catholic News Agency to summarize the process they establish: “China’s state-run Catholic Church and bishops’ conference will select, approve, and ordain episcopal candidates — with no mention of the Vatican’s involvement in the process.”

Significantly, the new rules require the clergy to “adhere to the principle of independent and self-administered religion in China.” This language tracks with a longstanding clause in the membership pledge of the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church (CPCC), which bishops and priests are required to sign to be licensed for ministry. It means, in practical terms, that Chinese clergy must be actually independent of the Vatican and, therefore, must be apostates. In 2019, the Vatican suggested guidelines, outside the agreement’s framework, for rejecting the clause. Father Huang Jintong, a priest in Fujian, was held by police and tortured for four days for following the Vatican guidance.

The new rules stipulates that CPCC-aligned clergy actively support the ruling Communist Party. Article 3 requires them to “support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party” and “the socialist system,” as well as to “practice the core values of socialism.” The rules also require clergy to promote “social harmony,” by which Beijing means conformity of thought. In other words, the rules aim to turn churches into another arm of the authoritarian Chinese regime.

Enforcement is ensured by a rule directing that those entering churches “be regulated through strict gatekeeping, verification of identity, and registration.” Registration is to be tracked in a new government database that lists the names of legal clergy and regulates their behavior through a system of “rewards” and “punishments.”

Catholicism has deep historical roots in China. Introduced to the country by the 16th-century Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci, it is one of five state-recognized religions, and China’s estimated 12 million Catholics are not subject to charges of separatism or terrorism, as several other Chinese religious minorities are. Instead, the CCP views Catholicism warily, as a belief system imported from the West, and aims either to coopt the religion through the party-controlled Patriotic Church or to eradicate it completely.

The appointment of bishops, the Vatican explained in its statement on the 2018 agreement’s renewal, is “essential to guarantee the ordinary life of the Church in China.” While both parties agreed to keep the text confidential, the Vatican has been clear about the importance of a papal role in this process.

As the Catholic News Service reported, “Pope Francis told reporters in September 2018 that the agreement envisions ‘a dialogue about potential candidates. The matter is carried out through dialogue. But the appointment is made by Rome; the appointment is by the pope. This is clear.’” The Vatican disclosed that fundamental Church teaching on “the particular role of the Supreme Pontiff within the Episcopal College and in the appointment of bishops itself, inspired the negotiations” and “was a point of reference in the drafting of the text of the agreement.” It helps to ensure that all Catholic congregations in China will be unified behind the pope.

With Pope Francis’s approval, Vatican diplomats pursued a bilateral agreement, taking advantage of the Holy See’s status as a sovereign state. The Vatican accepted that the agreement would “exclusively concern” episcopal appointments. It would refrain from pressing Beijing on the status of the “underground,” non-CPCC Catholic Church, the ban against religion for youth, the state’s destruction of numerous churches and Marian shrines, its efforts to reinterpret the Bible, and a host of other human-rights crises. It could live with Communist administrative control of its churches, as it did in Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War. And, as a precondition of the agreement, Pope Francis was willing to lift the prior excommunications of seven government-named bishops. The agreement was signed in September 2018, on a provisional basis for two years. As recently as October 2020, the Vatican expressed satisfaction about its progress and optimistically characterized it as “above all the point of departure for broader and more far-sighted agreements.”

China was willing to enter into the agreement for one simple reason: It wanted Vatican help in eliminating the underground Catholic Church and had the leverage to secure that concession. The CCP-controlled Patriotic Church was to be the institution wherein Chinese Catholic unification would take place, with the pope’s blessing. After the agreement, Chinese authorities rounded up underground Catholic clergy, warning that they would defy the pope if they continued baptizing, ordaining new clergy, and praying in unregistered churches. The Chinese Catholic underground could withstand being officially labeled illegal or counterrevolutionary; it survived fierce persecution as an enemy of the state during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. But it couldn’t withstand running afoul of the pope. The conscientious objectors among the underground clergy felt compelled to end their active ministries and return to their families, as Bishop Vincent Guo of Mindong did this past year.

Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong warned that the 2018 deal would “kill” the Catholic underground in mainland China, and his warning now seems to have been borne out. The underground has been sufficiently weakened that Beijing, calculating that the agreement has served its purpose, is moving to repudiate its sole point of substance. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church, stripped of a papal role in episcopal appointments in China and with a diminished and demoralized underground, is left much more poorly positioned to survive the Xi era intact.

Partnering with Xi’s China is a rigged game, because the CCP doesn’t play by fair rules. It honors bilateral agreements to the extent that they serve its ends; it has no qualms about breaking its end of an agreement after the other party has fulfilled theirs. There is, sadly, little appetite among other nations for holding Xi’s regime to account for such lawlessness. But as a Catholic and a world leader, President Biden should take a close interest in what is happening to the Church in China, and he should use his power to penalize the CCP for its perfidy and to keep it in focus before committing the U.S. in any future partnerships with Beijing.

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China defends use of Twitter, Facebook in virus campaign

China defends use of Twitter, Facebook in virus campaign

·2 min read

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government defended its use of Twitter and Facebook on Thursday, following a report that it had used its growing social media presence to spread disinformation about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked about the report, the Foreign Ministry’s top spokesperson, Hua Chunying, didn’t directly address the allegations about China’s role in spreading virus disinformation. However, she called the report hype and said China should have the right to use social media too.

An Associated Press investigation, conducted in collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, found that powerful political figures and allied media in China as well as the U.S., Russia and Iran flooded the globe with disinformation about the virus.

 

The report, published earlier this week, said that Chinese officials went on the offensive in reaction to a narrative — nursed by former U.S. President Donald Trump among others — that the virus had been manufactured by China. Experts have largely ruled out that possibility.

Hua, asked about the AP report at a daily Foreign Ministry briefing, said that some people in Western countries, such as the U.S, don’t want to hear China’s objective and true voice.

“They are afraid that more people will learn the truth, so that they can no longer spread false information unscrupulously and do whatever they want to mislead and monopolize international public opinion,” she said.

China’s response, though, was to start spreading rumors that the virus had been created by a U.S. military lab and released during an international competition for military athletes in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.

The search for the origins of the virus has become highly politicized. Trump sought to pin the blame on China, in part to deflect criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic in the United States.

China, in turn, has played up reports that the virus was circulating outside of the country before the outbreak in Wuhan, suggesting it may have been brought in from elsewhere.

Determining where the virus started is likely to take years of research and may never be known. Most scientists say the most likely scenario is it was first carried by bats in southwest China or neighboring Southeast Asia, and then spread to another animal before infecting humans.

China hits Canada for statement against arbitrary detention

China hits Canada for statement against arbitrary detention

BEIJING (AP) — China lashed out at Canada on Thursday for joining the U.S. and 56 other countries in endorsing a declaration denouncing state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign citizens for political purposes.

The dispute is rooted in Canada’s campaign to free its nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested more than two years ago by China in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest days earlier of a top Chinese tech executive, Meng Wanzhou, who is wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Thursday reiterated China’s demand for Meng’s immediate release and told reporters Beijing has complained to Ottawa over the declaration, calling it a “despicable and hypocritical act.”

“Canada colluded with some countries to issue a so-called declaration against arbitrary detention, and deliberately let the relevant people slander China’s arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” Hua said at a daily briefing.

“Canada’s so-called declaration looks more like a confession in which the Canadian side admits its mistake in the Meng Wanzhou case,” Hua said. “On the one hand, the Canadian side advocates that it adheres to the rule of law, but on the other hand, it acts as an accomplice of the U.S. and arbitrarily detains Chinese citizens. “

Meng is a leading executive with Huawei and the daughter of the company’s founder.

China says it has charged Kovrig and Spavor with endangering national security, but little is known about the accusations. In detention, they have been allowed only occasional visits from Canadian diplomats while Meng resides in one of her Vancouver mansions under a loose form of house arrest.

In endorsing the declaration, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on “all like-minded countries to work together to pressure the nations that engage in such detentions to put an end to this practice, to release those detained under such conditions and to respect the rule of law and human rights.”

The declaration is also meant to be a broad denunciation of coercive practice in other countries, such as Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said the declaration is “country-agnostic” and that he wants to recruit more countries as signatories, which presently include the U.K, France, Australia, Germany and Sweden.

Another US Navy destroyer challenged China in the South China Sea by sailing past contested islands without asking permission

Another US Navy destroyer challenged China in the South China Sea by sailing past contested islands without asking permission

 

 
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) transits the Pacific Ocean
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell in the Pacific Ocean. 
US Navy
  • The US Navy sent a destroyer to challenge “unlawful” restrictions by China and others in the South China Sea.
  • The destroyer USS Russell sailed through the contested Spratly Islands without asking permission.
  • This is the second such operation in less than two weeks, suggesting these operations will continue being routine under the Biden administration.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Russell sailed through the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, challenging China’s demands that foreign military vessels ask for permission before sailing through the area, the Navy said.

The Spratly Islands are contested territories in the South China Sea. China, which claims almost all of the 1.3 million-square-mile waterway, has built up its military presence in this area, constructing fortified outposts on artificial reefs.

The Spratlys are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines, some of which put restrictions on the operations of foreign military vessels, as China does.

The US Navy characterizes “unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea” as a “serious threat to freedom of the sea.”

The latest freedom-of-navigation operation “upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging unlawful restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan,” the Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement.

Spratly islands map
Reuters

“China, Vietnam, and Taiwan require either permission or advance notification before a foreign military vessel engages in ‘innocent passage’ through the territorial sea,” the Navy said. “By engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notification to or asking permission from any of the claimants, the United States challenged these unlawful restrictions.”

The operation on Wednesday followed a similar one conducted less than two weeks ago by the destroyer USS John McCain. The warship carried out a freedom-of-navigation operation in the Paracel Islands, contested territory where China also has a growing military presence.

The Chinese Defense Ministry expressed frustration with the operation and said naval and air assets were deployed to drive away the US destroyer. China considers such operations to be violations of sovereignty.

As it has before, the Navy said in its latest statement that “the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.” Freedom-of-navigation operations have become fairly routine for the service despite pushback from China.

In addition to the freedom-of-navigation operations, the US Navy sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait and had two carrier strike groups operating together in the South China Sea in recent weeks, sparking complaints from Beijing.

The Trump administration dramatically stepped up competition with China, and there are expectations that this will continue under the new Biden administration.

President Joe Biden has described China as the “most serious competitor” and said the US is in “extreme competition” with China.

Biden recently announced the establishment of the “China Task Force” at the Department of Defense, which says the aim is “countering Chinese efforts” to “overturn the current rules-based structure” and use “all elements of national power to bend the nations to its will.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has called China the “pacing threat” for the US, and a planned force posture review is expected to focus heavily on the US position in the Indo-Pacific region.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby recently stressed how seriously the secretary takes the “pacing challenge that China poses,” telling reporters that it’s important to take a “fresh look as we come in at what is in the Pacific.”

“What is the footprint both fixed and rotational, and what’s the health of our alliances and partnerships there? In other words, from our perspective are we doing enough?”

 

China rights activist missing after being stopped at airport

China rights activist missing after being stopped at airport

 
Updated 
 
 

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities have given no word on the status of Chinese legal rights activist Guo Feixiong after he was blocked from leaving the country last week to join his family in the United States, his sister said Tuesday.

Yang Maoping said they had no word from Guo or information from police since he was reportedly detained at Shanghai’s Pudong airport Thursday while attempting to board a flight to the U.S.

Guo had messaged friends that he would go on hunger strike unless allowed to leave the country to be with his wife who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

 

“I have been informed that I cannot leave the country because I am under suspicion of endangering state security and other such charges. I will now go on indefinite hunger strike and call on the people of China and governments and people around the world to offer assistance,” Guo said in a text sent to friends and passed on to journalists.

As a lawyer, Guo represented government critics and had been imprisoned for more than 10 years under China’s loosely defined state security laws. The ruling Communist Party frequently uses travel bans to punish those who challenge it, often as a prelude to prosecution and lengthy prison terms.

Yang said Guo’s concern over his wife’s health had pushed him to risk another confrontation with authority.

“The lack of information on top of her health situation is very distressing,” Yang said.

Top Chinese diplomat calls for China, U.S. to mend relations

Top Chinese diplomat calls for China, U.S. to mend relations

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi greet media as he walks to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo
 
Updated 
 
 

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s top diplomat called on Tuesday for Beijing and Washington to put relations back on a predictable and constructive path, saying the United States should stop meddling in China’s internal affairs, like Hong Kong and Tibet.

Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, is the highest ranking Chinese leader to speak on China-U.S. relations since President Joe Biden took office.

Under the Trump administration, U.S. relations with China plunged to their lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979, as both sides clashed over issues ranging from trade and technology to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang, and the South China Sea.

 

While reassuring the United States that China has no intention to challenge or replace the U.S. position in the world, Yang stressed that no force can hold back China’s development.

“The United States should stop interfering in Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and other issues regarding China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Yang said, defining these as issues concerning China’s core interests and national dignity.

Speaking at an online forum organised by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations on Tuesday in Beijing, Yang said China never meddles with U.S. internal affairs, including its elections.

Yang, whose position in the ruling Communist Party gives him more influence than even the foreign minister, also urged the Biden administration not to abuse the concept of national security in trade.

“We in China hope that the United States will rise above the outdated mentality of zero-sum, major-power rivalry and work with China to keep the relationship on the right track,” he said.

Yang reasserted that China is prepared to work with the United States to move the relationship forward along a track of “no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.”

The word “cooperation” appeared 24 times in his speech. He suggested that U.S. firms could gain from an estimated 22 trillion dollars worth of exports to China in the coming decade.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Additional reporting by Vincent Lee in Washington; Editing by Christian Schmollinger & Simon Cameron-Moore)

‘Mandarin only’: China removes Uyghur language as medium of instruction in Xinjiang

‘Mandarin only’: China removes Uyghur language as medium of instruction in Xinjiang

” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />Uyghur students in China's Keplin county in Xinjiang are no longer allowed to study in Uyghur language

Uyghur Muslims in China/ Image Source: BBC

Even as China continues to reject the allegations of ongoing human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, the alleged atrocities against the Uyghur Muslims continues. In a recent revelation, it has now been revealed that the Chinese authorities have removed the Uyghur language instruction from educational institutions in the region.

According to a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report, the Keplin county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) no longer provides education in Uyghur language to students. Xinjian province is the home to Uyghur population, and the national laws guarantee minorities the right to bilingual education.

In an audio recording accessed by RFA’s Uyghur Service this week, a person claiming to be an Uyghur man from Kelpin county was reportedly heard making phone calls to the Bureau of Education in his hometown to ask for information about how to place the children of his neighbours, who he claims are detained in an internment camp, in school.

Instruction to be carried out in ‘national language’ or ‘Mandarin Chinese’ only

Continuing, the man who identified himself as an employee of the Kelpin Bureau of Education says that the caller could bring the two children, reportedly aged five and seven, to the bureau offices. As the caller asked to clarify which language the children would study in, the bureau employee said that instruction in Kelpin would be carried out in the “national language,” or Mandarin Chinese only.

When the caller asked if it is possible to choose the medium of instruction to be Uyghur, the Bureau employee responded by saying, “The national language is the standard now.”

After receiving the audio recording, the RFA has now received similar calls from Kelpin County No. 1 Intermediate School. One of the administrators confirmed to RFA that “schools in Kelpin no longer offer Uyghur language instruction”.

“Speaking Uyghur language is not allowed [on school grounds],” the administrator said stating, “Normally, it’s not even OK for us (staff) to speak to one another in Uyghur.”

Persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China

According to a 2017 report by the head of the Institute of Sociology at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, the increasing Muslim population in Xinjiang contributed to increased political risk, poverty, and extremism. One of the reasons cited behind their high birth rates was the Islamic belief that the foetus was a gift from God.

However, experts are of the view that it is a strategy of the Communist Party of China (CCP) to strip Uighurs of their religious and ethnic identity and assimilate them into the dominant Han Chinese ethnicity. While Uighur Muslims are often subjected to re-educational programs, forced labour, and digital surveillance, their children are indoctrinated in orphanages.

Reportedly, Uyghur Muslims have been the subject of a massive crackdown since 2017. They were held up in prisons for praying, traveling abroad, or even using social media under the pretext of containing ‘ religious extremism’. According to researcher Zenz, two counties and townships have directed authorities to leave no ‘blind spots’, contain illegal births, and decrease fertility levels.

However, China has rejected allegations of cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps and interfering in their religious activities. The Communist Party of China has denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang even as several reports highlight brutal crackdown on the ethnic community.

Recently, a commission of the United States Congress, in a new report, said that China has possibly carried out “genocide” against Uyghurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang.

New Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks out about Russia, China

New Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks out about Russia, China

Mon, February 1, 2021, 7:33 AM

In an NBC News exclusive, Antony Blinken, President Biden’s new secretary of state, sat down with NBC chief Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell for his first television interview, speaking out about Russian’s handling of activist Alexei Navalny and other foreign relations topics.

China is spreading conspiracy theories that the coronavirus was created in an American lab and that a US-created vaccine is killing the elderly

Add Your Heading Text Here

 

 
china wuhan
A rescue team disinfects a theater in Wuhan, China. 
Xia Junjun/VCG via Getty Images
  • Chinese state media is spreading a conspiracy theory that a US Army base created the novel coronavirus.
  • It’s also pushing the idea that Pfizer’s vaccine is unsafe for the elderly, a claim disproven by researchers.
  • The misinformation push comes as a team of WHO scientists arrive in Wuhan to study the virus origins.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Chinese state media is playing up a baseless conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus was created in a US lab, and is also claiming that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may actually be killing the elderly.

A report from the Associated Press found that state-sponsored media groups have been waging a two-pronged disinformation campaign to deflect responsibility for the coronavirus onto the West and discrediting Western-produced vaccines in favor of Chinese-manufactured ones. 

Last week, the hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick” began trending on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The hashtag was started by the Communist Youth League and aimed to push the baseless theory that the coronavirus originated in a lab at the Maryland Army base and not in Wuhan, China, as is consensus.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry called for an investigation by the World Health Organization into Fort Detrick.

“If America respects the truth, then please open up Fort Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the US, and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the US to investigate the origins,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told state media. 

Fort Detrick served as ground zero for the US’s biological weapons program from 1943 to 1969, when it was officially discontinued.

Chinese state media has been calling for authorities to look into the location as a possible origin for coronavirus since May. 

The ubiquity of Weibo has meant that the conspiracy theory has spread far and wide among Chinese citizens — the hashtag was viewed more than 1.4 billion times, according to the AP — as has the belief that the Pfizer-BioNtech mRNA vaccine is actually harmful to elderly people.

Chinese state media warned that the vaccine wasn’t safe for the elderly after 23 Norwegian citizens died following the vaccine’s administration. 

But a WHO report released on Friday examining the deaths found that they were “in line with the expected, all-cause mortality rates and causes of death in the sub-population of frail, elderly individuals, and the available information does not confirm a contributory role for the vaccine in the reported fatal events.” 

The news comes as Brazilian researchers revealed that Sinovac, China’s major coronavirus vaccine candidate, is only 50% effective. The researchers had initially described Sinovac as 78% effective but hadn’t considered more mild cases during their first review. 

That effectiveness rate is “very embarrassing” for the Chinese government, writer Fang Shimin told the AP, which may be why the government is trying to deflect attention toward US conspiracy theories for the time being. 

wuhan wet market
The Huanan wet market in Wuhan, China, pictured here on January 21, 2020, was linked to one of the world’s earliest coronavirus outbreaks. 
Dake Kang/AP

In recent weeks, the Chinese government has been criticized for its failure to cooperate with researchers from the World Health Organization who traveled to Wuhan to investigate the virus’s origins

Furthermore, China has for months rejected the consensus that the coronavirus first appeared in humans in Wuhan.

The first cases of the coronavirus were discovered in Wuhan, China, in November 2019 and were initially believed to be connected to the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

In the early months of the pandemic, government officials, including then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump, pushed the baseless conspiracy that the virus had been created in a lab in Wuhan as a bioweapon.

But a report published by infectious-disease researchers in the scientific journal Nature Medicine found no evidence that “any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”