A Chinese official’s tweets suggesting the U.S. Army is responsible for injecting coronavirus into Wuhan, China, will not be removed, a Twitter spokesman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A tweet from Chinese politician Lijian Zhao suggesting the United States is trying to keep secret a plan to inject the virus into China does not violate Twitter rules, a company spokesman said. The spokesman reiterated the company’s existing rules but did not provide a reason for speaking anonymously.
Zhao is deputy director of China’s Foreign Ministry Information Department.
Zhao falsely stated in a Thursday tweet that Centers For Disease Control Robert Redfield was “arrested” before floating the conspiracy theory to his 317,000 followers. (RELATED: Chinese Official Blames US For Introducing Coronavirus To Wuhan, Says US ‘Owes Us An Explanation’)
2/2 美国疾控中心主任被抓了个现行。零号病人是什么时候在美国出现的？有多少人被感染？医院的名字是什么？可能是美军把疫情带到了武汉。美国要透明！要公开数据！美国欠我们一个解释！ pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
“When did Patient Zero appear in the United States? How many people are infected? What is the name of the hospital?” he said in the tweet. “It may be that the US military brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
Zhao added: “America needs to be transparent! The United States owes us an explanation!”
The first case of coronavirus, or COVID-19, is believed to have appeared December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The virus has spread since February to 36 other countries and territories and has a global death toll of 3,041, according to the CDC‘s numbers.
Deaths from the virus in China hit 811 on Feb. 9, surpassing the number of patients who died from SARS, China’s National Health Commission noted at the time. China has reported roughly 80,000 cases since February, though the number of cases in the country appears to be declining.
Twitter’s decision to decline action came after the company announced in June 2019 that it will begin labeling and down ranking politicians’ most vitriolic tweets, a move that could affect how President Donald Trump promotes his message.
The label applies to all verified political candidates and officials with more than 100,000 followers, Twitter noted in a blog post. Users who want to view flagged content must click on a screen that says Twitter’s rules against abusive behavior apply to the tweet.
The Trump administration asked big tech companies on Wednesday to help stomp out misinformation and conspiracy theories related to coronavirus. Twitter was among those companies that attended a conference addressing misinformation with White House officials.
“With a critical mass of expert organizations, official government accounts, health professionals, and epidemiologists on Twitter, our goal is to elevate and amplify authoritative health information on our service,” Twitter spokesman Trenton Kennedy said in a statement following the conference.
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