US accuses China and Russia of coordinating to spread virus conspiracies

WION Web Team
Washington, United StatesUpdated: May 09, 2020, 07:40 AM IST
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Putin, Trump and Jinping Photograph:(Agencies)

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Proxies of both China and Russia appear to be working in coordination to magnify false narratives on the social media platform.

The US State Department has accused China and Russia of stepping up cooperation to spread false narratives over the coronavirus pandemic.

Lea Gabrielle, who oversees the State Department's Global Engagement Center, tasked with identifying and responding to foreign propaganda, told reporters Friday morning her office had identified "a new network of inauthentic accounts" on Twitter designed to bolster China's narrative that it was not responsible for the global spread of COVID-19.

Proxies of both China and Russia appear to be working in coordination to magnify this narrative on the social media platform, leading Gabrielle to conclude the two governments are likely working together out of shared interest.

According to her, ''Beijing appears to be increasingly adopting Russian tactics to sow discord and spread disinformation on social media about the origins of COVID-19.'' 

"Even before the COVID-19 crisis we assessed a certain level of coordination between Russia and the PRC in the realm of propaganda," said Lea Gabrielle, coordinator of the State Department's Global Engagement Center, which tracks foreign propaganda.

"But with this pandemic the cooperation has accelerated rapidly," she told reporters.

"We see this convergence as a result of what we consider to be pragmatism between the two actors who want to shape public understanding of the COVID pandemic for their own purposes," she said.

The Global Engagement Center earlier said thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts were spreading conspiracies about the pandemic, including charging that the virus first detected last year in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan was created by the United States.

China outraged the United States when a foreign ministry spokesman tweeted a conspiracy that the US military brought the virus to Wuhan, but the two countries reached an informal rhetorical truce in late March after telephone talks between President Donald Trump and his counterpart Xi Jinping.