Austin Bay, From the beginning of the COVID-19/Wuhan virus epidemic, China’s communist government has lied about the disease, its origin and its transmissibility. It has also avoided an accurate accounting of the contagion’s health and economic consequences within the Peoples Republic, always insisting Chinese Communist Party leadership has minimized the pandemic’s effects.
We know for a fact that since early January 2020, CCP lies, denials and obfuscations have exacted a heavy worldwide price in human illness, in human lives lost and in economic damage.
A Wall Street Journal article recently revealed Chinese officials didn’t inform their own Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the December 2019 outbreak. That decision surely delayed China’s own domestic response. As CCP elites conducted political damage control, Chinese citizens died.
I’ve written that by late December 2019, the CCP dictatorship confronted a strategic threat: a domestic epidemic that would damage China’s economy. So, the dictatorship decided to “export the contagion” and let the virus spread internationally so the world would also suffer.
Failing to inform its own CDC supports that scenario. Without accurate epidemic data from China’s CDC, the World Health Organization, to which China belongs, spouted medical nostrums. Riddled with Beijing sympathizers, WHO officials failed to confront Beijing’s opacity and essentially served as a legitimating prop for CCP lies.
Lying is the CCP’s internal and international operating system. Cold disdain for prudent international norms, followed by yet another disinformation campaign, is a typical CCP one-two punch. The Philippines got it when Beijing ignored The Hague arbitration court’s 2016 ruling that China violated the United States Convention on the Law of the Sea by illegally occupying Filipino maritime territory and stealing natural resources. China is a UNCLOS signatory.
In early 2020, Chinese propagandists began blaming the U.S. for the virus. One agit-prop anti-America howler accused a U.S. Army reservist of bringing the disease to China in October 2019. China’s 2020 lie mimicked a Cold War-era Soviet KGB lie about the origin of the AIDS virus. Kremlin communists claimed U.S. biological warfare scientists created AIDS in 1973. The KGB lie appeared circa 1983. Over time, the lie mutated, as all sick gossip does. A 1986 version I read in a Southeast Asian paper claimed that the virus was engineered to kill black and brown people. In 2002, while visiting east Africa, I heard this version again.
Twenty-first-century Chinese and Russian lies have become both more pervasive and more sophisticated in targeting audiences with disinformation that seeds fear, doubt, despair, anger and confusion.
In fall 2020, China’s virus disinformation campaign added another target: Western-manufactured vaccines, particularly the U.S.-backed Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
According to the U.S. State Department, Russian operatives also smear Western vaccines. They magnify fears that the vaccines’ approval process was hasty.
State’s Global Engagement Center recently released a list of Russian disinformation outlets targeting vaccines that are “directly linked to Russian intelligence services.” They “inject” misleading tales of risky side effects and doubtful efficacy into mainstream media.
Russian and Chinese smears have a marketing angle. Russia is peddling its Sputnik V vaccine as a medically equivalent alternative to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It isn’t. China touts its Sinovac vaccine, which is about half as effective as Pfizer and Moderna.
In the last three months, I’ve read several reports of “vaccine hesitancy.” It increases the time it takes to achieve herd immunity and can affect military readiness. According to the Pentagon, a third of all U.S. service members have rejected vaccinations. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is personally urging military personnel to get vaccinations.
Did propaganda sway soldiers and sailors? Possibly. Vaccinations can produce adverse reactions, and some people are particularly vulnerable. Stories circulate of severe reactions to Desert Storm’s anthrax vaccine.
Senior Navy leaders reportedly want to make the vaccine mandatory. They have seen the virus force warships to return to port and are sure vaccination enhances readiness.