The European External Action Service’s (EEAS) StratCom division recently published a report that accused the Chinese government of aggressively spreading disinformation about COVID-19 through social media. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded to this completely unsubstantiated claim on Monday by reminding the world that “China is opposed to the creation and spreading of disinformation by anyone or any organisation. China is a victim of disinformation, not an initiator.”
The diplomat made an excellent point that deserves to be expanded upon so that others can better understand the perniciousness of the latest twist in the West’s ongoing information warfare campaign against China. The People’s Republic was the first country to record any COVID-19 cases, and accordingly, it was also the first to mandate strict social distancing regulations in an unprecedentedly bold attempt to contain this contagion. China never denied any of this; rather, it was very transparent and kept the world updated about everything.
Not only was China a victim of the coronavirus, however, but it’s now also the latest victim of the West’s information warfare too. The campaign against the People’s Republic is intended to shape international perceptions by accusing the country of what the West itself is guilty of, and that’s spreading disinformation about the pandemic. It’s Western officials and their media, not their Chinese counterparts, that have consistently disseminated contradictory and sometimes even outright false reports about the virus.
China has always taken an abundance of caution whenever its representatives report on the coronavirus, whereas their Western counterparts have a tendency to tell the public about unproven treatment methods and factually incorrect claims about the virus’ origin. The public is becoming very confused after receiving so many mixed messages from figures that they thought they could trust, hence why many of those same ones have now decided to blame China for the COVID-19 information chaos that they themselves created.
The purpose in doing so isn’t just to cover their tracks by eschewing responsibility for the widespread confusion that they caused (whether unwittingly or for deliberate reasons that can only be speculated upon at this time), but to concoct a conspiracy theory blaming China for the growing number of deaths and economic devastation caused by this virus. Blaming the victim isn’t just immoral, it’s also counterproductive since the global public is already well aware that China is actually a victim of both the virus and information warfare, not the guilty party.
It’s for this reason why the EEAS unconvincingly sought to misportray the popularity of its officials’ statements and articles from the country’s media as supposed proof of an aggressive disinformation campaign, claiming that China has deployed an army of bots to spread certain ideas throughout cyberspace. That’s not true, since this popularity is actually attributable to average people being receptive to the factual news and intriguing analyses coming from China, ergo why they’re so eagerly sharing them with others on social media.
Fewer and fewer people believe Western officials and their media, which is the West’s own fault for confusing their targeted audience with the mixed messages that they disseminated about COVID-19 over the past couple of months. It was an epic mistake for them to underestimate their people’s intelligence by assuming that they’ll automatically forget who was responsible for this disinformation just because China was abruptly blamed for it. For this reason, it can confidently be said that the EEAS’ disinformation report is ironically disinformation itself.
It’s therefore Western leaders and their media, not China, that are waging information warfare on the Western public. People are becoming more aware of this too, hence why they’re seeking out Chinese sources of information instead of Western ones. This scares their governments, though, since they fear that they’re losing their power to manipulate the population. As their desperation grows, it wouldn’t be surprising if they blame their disinformation victims just like they blamed China, which would only deepen society’s distrust of them.