China Claims U.S. Launched Cyberattack on Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory Petition

This photo taken on February 20, 2020 shows doctors looking at a lung CT image at a hospital in Yunmeng county, Xiaogan city, in China's central Hubei province. - China on February 21 touted a big drop in new cases of the coronavirus as a sign it has contained the …
Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese state media on Sunday claimed a cyberattack from the United States targeted an online petition calling for a full international investigation of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the Wuhan coronavirus is a bioweapon created in a U.S. Army laboratory and spread by e-cigarettes.

China’s state-run Global Times bubbled that the cyberattack failed to “stop the enthusiasm of Chinese netizens” for investigating the communist conspiracy theory, hastily concocted in the early days of the pandemic to distract attention from the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the potential origin of the plague.

The CCP’s conspiracy theory was revamped and relaunched with a characteristically suspicious online advertising campaign this summer as interest in the Wuhan Institute of Virology grew more intense. The propaganda campaign reached a fever pitch when the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) began discussing a second investigation of Wuhan this month. The Communist Party angrily denied permission for further visits last week and began shrieking about the Army lab at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, again.

According to the Global Times, some shadowy force in the U.S. targeted the online petition with a vaguely described “attack” on Saturday night, but was unable to shut it down:

An online petition demanding that the World Health Organization investigate Fort Detrick lab was attacked by multiple US IP addresses Saturday night as the number of signatures approached 10 million. 

However, the attacks failed to stop the enthusiasm of Chinese netizens. The signatures exceeded 10 million on Saturday evening, about a week since the petition was launched on July 17, as Chinese netizens are outraged by the US’ politicization of COVID-19 origins tracing probe.

Chinese observers said the strong appeal shows that Chinese people will not stop questioning the American lab until the US gives a reasonable explanation, and they also urged the WHO to truly play its coordinating role based on science and objectivity rather than becoming a political tool of the US.

The Global Times touted “medical staff who were at the frontline of the epidemic fight in Wuhan” signing the petition as evidence it should be taken seriously – an effort undercut by some of the staffers ranting like cardboard-cutout Communist Party operatives and raging against insults to the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s honor.

“I know very clearly that the institute was vilified and this inconceivable slander only shows the vilifiers are inhumane. Humanity’s lack of unity and trust is one reason the virus has grown into the pandemic of today’s scale,” fumed one Chinese doctor. “China is able to control the virus spread because it has unity and trust of its people, which are a manifestation of the level of civilization.” 

Western scientists told Politico on Sunday that China’s hysterical reaction to W.H.O.’s request for another visit to Wuhan “deepens growing suspicion the Chinese government is attempting to cover up the possibility that the virus was intentionally engineered.”

Politico interviewed doctors who noted China’s enraged reaction to the “perfectly reasonable” request for a follow-up visit to Wuhan was “very problematic” and inevitably makes the CCP look like it has something to hide.

Others expressed world-weary cynicism about the odds of ever finding a smoking gun at China’s laboratories, and some alarm that China will be less likely to fully cooperate with the next pandemic investigation because the Communist Party can never afford to admit to any mistake, malfeasance, or deception that could threaten its Wuhan coronavirus narrative.

In other words, for as long as the Communist Party rules China, it will double down on secrecy and deception because, as Chris Beyrer of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health put it, “the Chinese now have an official narrative, and they are pushing it very hard, and there is no opportunity for them to revisit that narrative of having asserted success.”

Beyrer’s analysis fits with the Global Times piece about the alleged American cyberattack on China’s petition to investigate Ft. Detrick.  “We are in a struggle that the virus is winning,” he said glumly. “But what we always want to do is prevent [future] pandemics and to do that you need to know how this thing emerged and became so fully adapted to human-to-human spread.”

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