Chinese state media confirmed on Wednesday the legitimacy of an image circulating online of a Shenyang, China, restaurant banner celebrating Chinese coronavirus deaths in the United States.
The Global Times, a state-run publication that has run conspiracy theories accusing the U.S. Army of artificially engineering the Wuhan virus and unleashing it as an attack on the Chinese state, identified the offending restaurant as “Mother Yang’s Porridge Restaurant” and claimed that police arrested the manager responsible for putting up a banner apparently wishing for the pandemic China allowed to occur to do as much damage in the United States and Japan as possible.
“Celebrating the epidemic in the U.S. and wishing coronavirus a nice trip to Japan,” a large red banner over the restaurant read, according to the Global Times’ translation. Other translations note that the Chinese characters also insult Japan as “little” and hope the virus spread “forever after that [arrival into Japan]”:
The newspaper identified the manager as a 30-something worker who had been there for some time and claimed that the banner was only up for about 90 minutes before police arrived at the scene. As China does not allow independent media outlets to operate within its borders, there are no independent reports confirming that this was the case. The news service UPI identified the manager as having the last name “Hui,” but not much more is known about the person or his or her fate after being detained by Chinese police.
The banner appeared to celebrate the growing numbers of deaths in both Japan and America. At press time, Japan has documented 1,307 cases of Chinese coronavirus nationwide and 45 deaths. In the United States, which has a much larger population than Japan, medical experts have logged more than 69,000 coronavirus cases and 1,046 deaths. Both nations are attempting to limit social contact to slow the spread of the highly contagious Chinese virus, though America has currently taken much more extreme measures in banning many American businesses from operating, triggering record numbers of jobless claims nationwide.
While the Global Times wrote of the celebration of American deaths on the part of Mother Yang’s, it has participated in the evidence-free accusations that Washington is responsible for the pandemic. An article in the state-run publication this month claimed that a U.S. Army facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland, was responsible for engineering a new form of coronavirus to be more contagious and difficult to treat. Chinese government officials also propagated the conspiracy theory. In the United States, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Zhao Lijian wrote on Twitter, “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
The Communist Party bans citizens who are not high-ranking Party members from using Twitter. Twitter has refused to hold Chinese officials to its terms of service about sharing dangerous disinformation.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly condemned Beijing for baselessly accusing the United States of fabricating the disease.
“My concern is that this cover-up, this disinformation that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in, is still denying the world the information it needs so that we can prevent further cases or something like this from recurring again,” Pompeo said this week. “The disinformation campaign from Russia and Iran as well as China continues. They’re talking about it coming from the U.S. Army, and they’re saying maybe it began in Italy, all things to deflect responsibility.”
The Chinese coronavirus originated in Wuhan, central China, in November. Chinese officials did nothing about the growing outbreak for months until privately alerting the World Health Organization (WHO) in January and shutting down a wild meat market that it believed was the origin location for the outbreak, as coronaviruses tend to infect humans after living in animals through consumption. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, is home to 11 million people and to China’s Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, which is licensed to handle the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The Chinese government boasted that the facility identified the Wuhan virus as a new pathogen at a breakneck pace.
That month – after January 20, when China finally told the world it had identified a new virus – the WHO told the world that, according to Chinese scientists, the coronavirus was not contagious from human to human. Scientists now know that this was not true, and the Chinese coronavirus is highly contagious, thus allegedly necessitating the shutdown of nearly the entirety of the American economy.
A February study also found evidence that the virus did not originate at the shut-down meat market, also raising questions as to China’s initial response to what is now a pandemic.
A study by the University of Southhampton found this month that had the Communist Party not detained doctors warning in December and January about a contagious disease spreading in Wuhan and otherwise silenced evidence about the outbreak, about 95 percent of the world’s coronavirus cases could have been prevented.
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