Japan accuses China of spreading 'disinformation' during coronavirus

Japan accuses China of spreading ‘propaganda’ and ‘disinformation’ during coronavirus pandemic as virologist who fled Hong Kong accusing Beijing of a cover-up warns the world: ‘We don’t have much time’

  • Disinformation includes claims virus brought to China by US military member
  •  There were also reports that Chinese herbal remedies could treat the disease
  • Comes as Chinese virologist Dr Yan Li-Meng said ‘we don’t have much time’ 
  • She said world must get to truth because it is ‘a key part to stop this pandemic’

Japan has accused China of spreading ‘propaganda’ and ‘disinformation’ during the coronavirus pandemic in a scathing annual defence review.

The alleged ‘disinformation’ included online claims that the virus was brought to China by a US military member and that Chinese herbal remedies could treat the disease.

The claims came out amid the ‘social uncertainties and confusion’ of the pandemic, Japan said in the defence white paper approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Tuesday.

It comes as respected Chinese virologist Dr Yan Li-Meng warned that ‘we don’t have much time’ to stop the pandemic.

Japan’s annual defence review – approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s (pictured) government – has accused China of spreading ‘propaganda’ and ‘disinformation’ during the coronavirus pandemic in a scathing annual defence review

It comes as respected Chinese virologist Dr Yan Li-Meng warned that ‘we don’t have much time’ to stop the pandemic 

Yan – who said she has been forced to flee Hong Kong because she ‘knows how they treat whistleblowers’ – claimed Beijing knew about the novel coronavirus well before it claims. 

She told Fox News: ‘I want the US people to understand how terrible this is.’

She added: ‘We have to chase the true evidence and get the real evidence because this is a key part to stop this pandemic. We don’t have much time.’

In an earlier interview, Yan said that her supervisors – many renowned as some of the top experts in their field – ignored research she began undertaking from the onset of the outbreak, which ultimately led to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

China – which has a 85,117 cases and 4,641 official deaths from coronavirus – has been accused of lying and covering up key information during virtually every stage of its Covid-19 response – from the initial outbreak to the number of cases and deaths, observers, experts and politicians have warned. 

Beijing initially tried to cover up the virus by punishing medics who discovered it, denying it could spread person-to-person and delaying a lockdown of affected regions – meaning early opportunities to control the spread were lost.

Then, once the virus began spreading, the Communist Party began censoring public information about it and spread disinformation overseas – including suggesting that US troops could have been the initial carriers.

Even now, prominent politicians have warned that infection and death totals being reported by the regime are likely to be wrong – with locals in the epicenter of Wuhan suggesting the true tolls could be ten times higher. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused American military members of bringing the coronavirus to Wuhan

Despite early admissions that the virus began in the city of Wuhan, China later back-tracked – even going so far as to suggest American troops had brought the infection over after visiting the province.

Lijian Zhao, a prominent official within the Chinese Foreign Ministry, tweeted out the claim on March 12 while providing no evidence to substantiate it.

‘When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals,’ he wrote. 

Referencing a military athletics tournament in Wuhan in October, which US troops attended, he wrote: ‘It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. 

‘Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!’

In fact, America’s ‘patient zero’ was a man who travelled from China to Washington State on January 15. The case was confirmed by the CDC six days later.

Chinese has also tried to push the theory that the virus originated in Italy, the country with the most deaths, by distorting a quote from an Italian doctor who suggested the country’s first cases could have occurred much earlier than thought.

In its defense review, Japan also accused China of pushing its territorial claims amid the coronavirus pandemic.

China ‘is continuing to attempt to alter the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea,’ Japan said.

The white paper described ‘relentless’ intrusions in waters around a group of islets claimed by both nations in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

In the South China Sea, it said Beijing was asserting territorial claims by establishing administrative districts around disputed islands that forced countries distracted by the virus outbreak to respond.

Japan’s criticism of China echoes comments by the United States at a time of rising regional tension as Beijing and Washtington held separate military drills in the resource-rich South China Sea and ties between the world’s two biggest economies deteriorated.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday rejected China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, saying they were ‘completely unlawful’.

Beijing insists its intentions in the waterway, through which around $3 trillion of global trade passes annually, are peaceful.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China had lodged a complaint over the review.

‘Japan’s defence white paper is full of biases and false information,’ he told a daily briefing. ‘It is trying to do all it can to hype up the so-called China threat.’

Japan sees China as a longer-term and more serious threat than nuclear-armed North Korea. Beijing now spends four times as much as Tokyo on defence as it builds a large modern military.

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