China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Thursday claimed that it might be the United States Army that brought the deadly coronavirus to China, adding to conspiracy theories about the origin of the pandemic that has now spread to more than 100 countries.
With cases of coronavirus falling in China and rising abroad, Beijing is now rejecting the wide opinion that the outbreak began in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province. Chinese authorities have also reacted strongly to the outbreak being referred to as the ‘Wuhan virus’.
“CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] was caught on the spot,” Lijian posted on Twitter. “When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
Lijian’s tweet was accompanied by a video of a US health official saying that some of the people who died of influenza were posthumously diagnosed as having had COVID-19. The video was among the top trends on China’s Twitter-like Weibo this week, with users saying it was evidence the coronavirus originated in the US.
On Friday, Lijian posted a link to an article from a website named Global Research, known for publishing conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks, according to AFP. “This is so astonishing that it changed many things I used to believe in,” he tweeted along with the article, urging users to re-tweet and let more people know about it.
Responding to Lijian’s remark, another government spokesperson Geng Shuang said there are different opinions in the international community about the source of coronavirus, according to PTI. “We believe this is a matter of science and required professional and scientific assessment,” he said.
Asked if Lijian’s comment should be considered China’s official position, he said, “I think you may want to ask certain US officials, do they speak on behalf of the US government when they attacked and smeared China recently.”
The coronavirus outbreak originated in a seafood market in Wuhan. More than 80,000 cases of coronavirus were reported from China. Over 3,000 people have died. Authorities had placed Wuhan under complete lockdown.
On Thursday, China declared that the peak of the coronavirus outbreak had passed in the country after new cases in Hubei fell to single digits for the first time.
Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to 100 countries, infecting 1.27 lakh people and killing 4,717. The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Italy, the worst-hit European country, has reported more than 1,000 deaths from the virus. The entire nation has been put under lockdown. In Iran, the epicentre of coronavirus in West Asia, more than 400 people have died. India has reported 81 cases and one death from coronavirus.