China’s Propaganda Outlets Are Hyping This One Line From WHO’s Coronavirus Report

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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  • Five of China’s state-controlled propaganda outlets touted a World Health Organization report released on Tuesday regarding the origins of the coronavirus. 
  • The outlets seized on a single line of the report which said that scientists should investigate whether the virus actually started outside China. 
  • The Chinese government has sought to deflect blame for the pandemic. 

China’s state-controlled news agencies touted a World Health Organization report released Tuesday that said it was unlikely that the coronavirus started as a leak from a lab in Wuhan.

Instead, the propaganda outlets hyped a suggestion from the 120-page WHO report that scientists should consider whether the virus originated outside China.

China’s leading news agencies, CGTN, Xinhua, People’s Daily, China Daily, and the Global Times, published similar highlights of the WHO report during a press conference held on Tuesday.

The report said that researchers reviewed data from studies that suggested that the virus was circulating several weeks earlier than previously known.

“Some of the suspected positive samples were detected even earlier than the first case in Wuhan, suggesting the possibility of missed circulation in other countries,” reads the report, which noted that the studies are of limited quality.

“Nonetheless, it is important to investigate these potential early events,” the report says.

The suggestion is in line with talking points that Beijing has issued throughout the pandemic in hopes of deflecting blame for the virus from China.

Chinese authorities have pushed back heavily on allegations that the virus may have first infected humans following a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is near where the first cluster of coronavirus cases emerged in December 2019.

In March 2020, Lijian Zhao, the deputy director of China’s foreign ministry information department, pushed the false claim that the virus was created in a military lab in the U.S. and released in China.

The WHO report said that the most likely explanation for the origins of the virus was that it jumped from an animal species to humans.

The 17-member WHO team, which began its investigation on Jan. 14, also said it was possible that humans contracted the virus after eating frozen food sold in China. (RELATED: China’s Propaganda Machine Loves WHO’s Bruce Aylward)

The theory about a lab leak has proved the most controversial hypothesis regarding the virus’s origins. The WHO researchers rated that theory as “extremely unlikely,” though only 1 page of the report analyzes the likelihood of a lab leak.

WHO’s dismissal of the theory has drawn scrutiny from some in the scientific community who say that the WHO researchers were not allowed by Chinese authorities to conduct a full investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Peter Daszak, an American zoologist who worked on the WHO team, conceded in a “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday that the scientists had to rely on information from Chinese scientists and authorities for the investigation into the lab leak hypothesis.

He also said that officials from China’s ministry of foreign affairs were present throughout the WHO team’s investigation.

CGTN, Xinhua, People’s Daily, China Daily and the Global Times highlighted aspects of the report on their Twitter accounts, which have a total of 39 million followers.

“A leak from a lab was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway, said the WHO convened global study,” tweeted CGTN, which registers with the Justice Department as a foreign agent of China.

“WHO highlights importance to investigate ‘potential early events’ of COVID-19 cases reported in different countries,” the propaganda outlet also tweeted.



Xinhua News, another prominent propaganda mill, issued a tweet identical to CGTN’s, suggesting the possibility of coordination in their social media posts.




The WHO report did not cite any other evidence that the virus emerged outside China, though WHO officials have said in the past that the theory was plausible.

In January, Michael Ryan, the director of WHO’s emergency services division, said at a press conference that it was “definitely too early” to conclude that the virus originated in China.

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