Chinese officials appeared to have relied on borrowing falsehoods pushed by anti-American organizations cultivated by the Kremlin that already have an audience in Western countries. Some of the sites have received Russian money, according to experts.
On March 12, for instance, Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, posted a link on Twitter to what he described as a “very much important” article that falsely described American origins of the coronavirus.
The article was from Global Research, a group based in Montreal that presents itself as a think tank but largely traffics in conspiracy theories, many of them pro-Russian and anti-American.
At least a dozen other Chinese Embassies around the world retweeted Mr. Zhao’s post. All told, more than 12,000 accounts have retweeted it and more than 20,000 users have liked it.
Here is more about the Global Research article from Politico:
On March 4, the People’s Daily reprint of this article was used as the basis for a piece published on conspiracy website GlobalResearch.ca, titled “China’s Coronavirus: A Shocking Update. Did The Virus Originate in the US?” It was the first of two articles on the website that would lead to Zhao’s tweet nine days later suggesting the U.S. Army had brought the virus to Wuhan.
Here is a link to Global Research, and here is a link to the above-mentioned article.
In related new, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS), unveiled a tool to track the Chinese disinformation campaign. As NYT notes, the group's Hamilton dashboard has long monitored Russian Twitter accounts and broadcast feeds.