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Flashermac

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  1. PATTAYA — Pattaya city was hit by flash floods for the second consecutive day on Wednesday after being pounded by thunderstorms. Several areas were flooded up to a meter high and roads cut off after the touristic coastal city suddenly experienced torrential rain in the afternoon for over two hours. The city yesterday also saw vast areas submerged by floods following hours of heavy rain, damaging many homes and a popular beach. Many parts of the major road Pattaya Tai were inundated, causing traffic jams several kilometers long. Officials said they expect the flood to dry out within a few hours. The Meteorological Department today issued a warning of thunderstorms and gusty winds for several provinces in upper Thailand through Thursday. Up to 40 percent of Bangkok could see heavy rain and storms today and tomorrow. https://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/2019/04/03/flash-floods-hit-pattaya-after-hours-of-heavy-rain/
  2. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Covid-19 outbreak ‘could kill 10m Thai jobs’ Thailand's job losses may reach 10 million if the coronavirus outbreak continues for a few months, a business advisory council said on Monday. The kingdom’s economy is being hit hard by the virus outbreak and is heading into a recession. "We think about 7 million jobs have been lost already, and the figure will hit 10 million if the outbreak drags on for 2-3 months," Kalin Sarasin, a council member and the head of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, told a briefing after a meeting. The country has a workforce of about 38 million. The council of government and business agencies discussed requests for support measures before proposing them to the government, said council chairman Thosaporn Sirisumphand. They included soft loans, tax breaks and financial support to retain jobs, he said. Thailand, which has recorded 2,579 cases of infection and 40 deaths, has imposed a nationwide night curfew, having closed malls and discouraged activities to limit the spread. The central bank has forecast the economy will contract 5.3% this year, which would be the weakest performance since the 1998 Asian financial crisis. https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1898955/covid-19-outbreak-could-kill-10m-thai-jobs#cxrecs_s
  3. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Then I take it that Andrew Bolt is not exactly one of the most trustworthy sources. He's almost an unknown to me.
  4. BANGKOK — Up to 100,000 Thais who are severely dependent on alcohol are at risk amid the nationwide booze ban, an expert said Monday. According to Sawitri Assanangkornchai, the director of Center for Alcohol Studies at Prince of Songkla University, the withdrawal syndromes include high fever, profuse sweating, nausea, seizures, and severe anxiety. The ban on alcohol sale was imposed in a bid to deter large gatherings and minimize coronavirus infection risk, officials said. “These people must be monitored,” Sawitri said by phone. “If the situation is severe, then the person must be taken to hospital.” Sawitri said drinking alcohol, even when done alone, weakens one’s immune system and makes people more prone to being at risk of coronavirus infections. She said around 1 million Thais are dependent on alcohol, and as much as 10 percent of them are considered to be severely dependent – the common term “alcoholics” comes to mind, though Sawitri said the word is loaded. They could experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as within six hours or up to within three days. The director added that those severely dependent on alcohol should not stop drinking right away; instead, they should seek to drink less and less. Government spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin also advised those experiencing alcohol withdrawal, such as hearing strange voices, to seek medical treatment immediately. According to Sawitri, at least one man in Buriram is believed to have died due to alcohol withdrawal over the weekend. A construction worker also climbed a tamarind tree in Nonthaburi on Monday morning, reportedly because he could not buy alcohol for his daily consumption. Rescue workers spent an hour trying to talk him down, to no avail. The man eventually fell down and was taken to a police station for questioning. While Sawitri sees more room to reduce alcohol dependency, such as limiting the sale time of the day further, she said Thailand is still far from the ranks of heavy drinkers in the world, compared to China, South Korea, and Japan. https://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/crimecourtscalamity/2020/04/13/100000-thais-face-severe-alcohol-withdrawal-during-virus-booze-ban/
  5. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Sky News host Andrew Bolt says claims coronavirus came from a Wuhan exotic animal market were beginning to fall apart with a Chinese academic pointing the finger at dangerous virology labs. A scholar from the South China University of Technology wrote a report casting doubt on the claim revealing “bat was never a food source in Wuhan” and bat was never sold at the infamous wet market. Instead, the author theorised that “a nearby laboratory just 300 metres from the market” was responsible for the outbreak. He said a researcher who worked coronaviruses and bats was quarantined for 14 days after being splashed with infected blood and urine. The scholar has since withdrawn his paper, a decision Mr Bolt said may have been due to pressure “to shut up” from Chinese leadership. Mr Bolt also revealed on his show that another nearby lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, bragged about discovering and identifying “a large number of new bat and rodent viruses” in a job ad posted in 2019.
  6. British racing great Stirling Moss dies aged 90 https://www.bangkokpost.com/sports/1898285/british-racing-great-stirling-moss-dies-aged-90#cxrecs_s
  7. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    An interesting outlook: Coronavirus: The good that can come out of an upside-down world Our world has changed immensely in the last few weeks but amid the upheaval and distress, there are reasons to believe we can emerge from the crisis with some human qualities enhanced, writes Matthew Syed. A few years ago, Michael Michalko, a former US army officer, came up with a fascinating idea to sharpen creativity. He called it "assumption reversal". You take the core notions in any context, subject, discipline and then, well, turn them on their head. So, suppose you are thinking of starting a restaurant (obviously not possible right now!). The first assumption might be: "restaurants have menus". The reversal would be: "restaurants have no menus". This provokes the idea of a chef informing each customer what he bought that day at market, allowing them to select a customised dish. The point is not that this will turn out to be a workable scheme, but that by disrupting conventional thought patterns, it might lead to new associations and ideas. Or, to take a different example, suppose you are considering a new taxi company. The first assumption might be: "taxi companies own cars". The reversal would be: "taxi companies own no cars". Twenty years ago, that might have sounded crazy. Today, the largest taxi company that has ever existed doesn't own cars: Uber. Now we are living through a disruption (you might even call it a reversal) of unprecedented scale. ... https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52094332
  8. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    You mean secret like the USS Theodore Roosevelt? Or secret like Boris Johnson caught the bug? Or only secret as in the CCP never admits to anything?
  9. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    For those who are on Farce Book: Michael Yon in Chiang Mai. https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=280116382982701&notif_id=1586551609305073&notif_t=live_video_explicit
  10. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    I'm on a semi-keto diet. Cut out bread, rice, pasta etc. I don't eat nearly as much, but I'm not hungry. I've lost over a dozen pounds, but I won't be happy until I at least double that loss. I'm trying to get back to my Army weight. Lots of luck with that, since the Army used to run if off of us and my running days are over. The days when I could do 10 to 15 mile mine sweeps each morning are long past.
  11. A shutdown to contain the coronavirus has killed Thailand's party scene and forced sex workers like Pim out of bars and onto desolate streets. She's scared but desperately needs customers to pay her rent. Red-light districts from Bangkok to Pattaya have gone quiet with night clubs and massage parlours closed and tourists blocked from entering the country. That has left an estimated 300,000 sex workers out of a job, pressing some onto the streets where the risks are sharpened by the pandemic. "I'm afraid of the virus but I need to find customers so I can pay for my room and food," Pim, a 32-year-old transgender sex worker, told AFP in an area of Bangkok where previously bawdy neon-lit bars and brothels have gone dark. Since Friday Thais have been under a 10 pm to 4 am curfew. Bars and eat-in restaurants closed several days earlier. Many of Bangkok's sex workers had jobs in the relative safety of bars, working for tips and willing to go home with customers. When their workplaces suddenly closed most returned home to wait out the crisis. Others like Pim went to work the streets. The government says it is ready to enforce a 24-hour curfew if necessary to control a virus that has infected more than 2,000 people and killed 20, according to official figures. Pim is paying a heavy price for the movement restrictions -- she has not had a customer for 10 days and the bills are stacking up. Her friend Alice, another transgender sex worker, has also been forced to move from a go-go bar to the roadside. "I used to make decent money, sometimes 10,000-20,000 baht a week," Alice says. "But when businesses shut down my income stopped too. We are doing this because we're poor. If we can't pay our hotel they will kick us out." - High risk - The occasional tourist loiters near clusters of sex workers, before a furtive negotiation and a quick march to a nearby hotel, one of the few still open on Bangkok's main tourist drag. The already high risks of sex work have rocketed as the virus spreads. Sex workers have flocked back to homes across the country in anticipation of several weeks of virtual lockdown before Thailand's night economy comes back to life. There are fears the malaise could last for months, yanking billions of tourist dollars from the economy and leaving those working in the informal sector destitute. They include sex workers -- an illegal but widely accepted part of Thailand's nightlife. There are concerns that a Thai government emergency scheme to give 5,000 baht to millions of newly jobless over the next three months will exclude sex workers because they cannot prove formal employment. The Empower Foundation, an advocacy group for the kingdom's sex workers, says entertainment venues make around 211 billion baht a year, many of them selling sex in some form. Women are suffering the most from the virus measures, it says. Many are mothers and their family's main income earner, forced into sex work by lack of opportunities or low graduate salaries. The group has written an open letter to the government urging it to "find a way to provide assistance to all workers who have lost their earnings". As the 10pm curfew looms, Pim and Alice prepare for a final forlorn patrol for customers. "I think the government has been really slow. They don't care about people like us who work in the sex industry," Alice said. "We're more afraid of having nothing to eat than the virus." https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1893510/scared-but-desperate-thai-sex-workers-forced-to-the-street#cxrecs_s
  12. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Strange that no CCP leaders have been affected, even they are much closer to it than any foreign leaders and celebs.
  13. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in Thailand as of 9 April 2020, 13.00 Hrs. https://www.tatnews.org/2020/04/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-situation-in-thailand-as-of-9-april-2020-13-00-hrs/
  14. Flashermac

    The Covid-19 thread

    I trained with Peter Navarro in Peace Corps Thailand Group #43 in 1973. Pete was something of a loner who had very strong views about everything. I'm surprised to see how far he has gone these days, especially since he is a life long Democrat and ran for office as one several times in California. He is a brilliant economist and nails the PRC perfectly with his comments on China. But it is quite odd to see him stepping in to support a drug that even most MDs are wary of. It definitely appears that his boss told him to go in and defend this potentially dangerous drug, and I can't see him doing it otherwise. I'm sure Pete has no financial interest in promoting this drug, but perhaps some one else may, or it could just be that Trump simply doesn't like anyone disagreeing with him.
  15. Flashermac

    Drink !

    TAT update: Summary of Thai provinces banning entry and alcohol sales https://www.tatnews.org/2020/04/tat-update-summary-of-thai-provinces-banning-entry-and-alcohol-sales/?fbclid=IwAR3MFe7v_wR8NC1TtgvY2mgfJ2PG6a6W6psfUnge7gD9wDtNE-S9tg8OEH0
  16. Beijing Fears COVID-19 Is Turning Point for China, Globalization While the world fights the coronavirus pandemic, China is fighting a propaganda war. Beijing’s war aim is simple: shift away from China all blame for the outbreak, the botched initial response, and its early spread into the broader world. At stake is China’s global reputation, as well as the potential of a fundamental shift away from China for trade and manufacturing. Also at risk is the personal legacy of General Secretary Xi Jinping, who has staked his legitimacy on his technocratic competence. After dealing with the first great global crisis of the 21st century, the world must fundamentally rethink its dependence on China. After months of staying holed up in the Forbidden City, Mr. Xi finally ventured to Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, to declare victory over the virus as all the makeshift hospitals have been closed. Yet no one knows if Beijing’s claims that new indigenous cases are slowing down are true or not, given long-standing doubt about the veracity of any official Chinese statistics, and the party’s failure to act in the early days of the coronavirus. The communist government instead is claiming that it has largely controlled the epidemic, even as it suspiciously now blames “foreign arrivals” for new cases of virus. Leaked video from China shows huge lines at a hospital in Chongqing, for example, raising questions about just what is happening around the country. What Beijing cares about is clear from its sustained war on global public opinion. Chinese propaganda mouthpieces have launched a broad array of attacks against the facts, attempting to create a new narrative about China’s historic victory over the Wuhan virus. Chinese state media is praising the government’s “effective, responsible governance," but the truth is that Beijing is culpable for the spread of the pathogen around China and the world. Chinese officials knew about the new virus back in December, and did nothing to warn their citizens or impose measures to curb it early on. Instead of acting with necessary speed and transparency, the party-state looked to its own reputation and legitimacy. It threatened whistleblowers like the late Dr. Li Wenliang, and clamped down on social media to prevent both information about the virus and criticism of the Communist Party and government from spreading. Unsurprisingly, China also has enablers abroad helping to whitewash Beijing’s culpability. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus refused for months to declare a pandemic, and instead thanked China for “making us safer,” a comment straight out of an Orwell novel. This is the same WHO that has refused to allow Taiwan membership, due undoubtedly to Beijing’s influence over the WHO’s purse strings. Most egregiously, some Chinese government officials have gone so far as to claim that the Wuhan virus was not indigenous to China at all, while others, like Mr. Tedros, suggest that China’s response somehow bought the world “time” to deal with the crisis. That such lines are being repeated by global officials and talking heads shows how effectively China’s propaganda machine is shaping the global narrative. The world is quickly coming to praise the Communist Party’s governance model, instead of condemn it. The reality is that China did not tell its own people about the risk for weeks and refused to let in major foreign epidemiological teams, including from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Thus, the world could not get accurate information and laboratory samples early on. By then, it was too late to stop the virus from spreading, and other world capitals were as lax in imposing meaningful travel bans and quarantines as was Beijing. Because of China’s initial failures, governments around the world, including democratic ones, now are being forced to take extraordinary actions that mimic to one degree or another Beijing’s authoritarian tendencies, thus remaking the world more in China’s image. Not least of the changes will be in more intrusive digital surveillance of citizens, so as to be able to better track and stop the spread of future epidemics, a step that might not have been necessary if Beijing was more open about the virus back in December and if the WHO had fulfilled its responsibilities earlier. Xi’s fears are well founded, as a global reconsideration of China is long overdue. Legitimate criticisms and doubts about China’s governance and growth model were long suppressed by Chinese pressure and the willingness of many to buy into the Communist Party’s public line. Public shaming of foreign corporations, global influence operations, and “elite capture” -- all are policies Beijing has deployed to maintain China’s public image. That carefully tended image is now cracked. Those concerned with global health issues may wonder why it is that China is wracked regularly by viral epidemics in addition to coronavirus, such as SARS, African Swine Fever, and avian flu (another outbreak is happening right now). Others may begin to look more carefully at China’s environmental devastation and the hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year from air and water pollution. On the trade side, many foreign corporations already have been reconsidering their operations in China, due to rampant intellectual property theft and rising production costs; now, they may seriously question how safe it is to continue to do business in China. Not only is the health of their employees at risk, but they no longer can be assured that China will be a stable supplier. If coronavirus becomes a seasonal phenomenon, as some experts predict, then even with a vaccine, new strains of the pathogen will always raise the specter of another out-of-control epidemic overwhelming the party-state’s capabilities and infecting the rest of the world. More broadly, the pandemic of 2020 has brought doubts about globalization into the mainstream. Decades of open borders, unceasing intercontinental travel, study abroad, just-in-time inventory systems, and the like have created unexpected vulnerabilities in populations and economies thanks to unfettered openness. To worry about such weaknesses is not to adopt a Luddite reactionary stance, but to try and salvage the bases of the post-World War II global economic architecture. Those who assumed that global markets were the optimal economic model and would always work, now have to consider whether globalization is the best system for dealing with pandemics like coronavirus, let alone old-fashioned state power plays like China imposed on Japan back in 2010, when it blocked the export of rare-earth minerals over territorial disputes in the East China Sea. Perhaps the biggest long-term economic effect of coronavirus will be on long-standing assumptions about global supply chains. Because of the way the global economy has developed since 1980, to question globalization today is in large part to question the world’s relationship to China. As Sens. Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have pointed out, America and the world have a prudential responsibility to reconsider their dependence on China. It is only since the outbreak of the pandemic that Americans have come to learn that China is the major supplier for U.S. medicines. The first drug shortages, due to dependence on China, have already occurred. Eighty percent of America’s “active pharmaceutical ingredients” comes from abroad, primarily from China (and India); 45% of the penicillin used in the country is Chinese-made; as is nearly 100% of the ibuprofen. Rosemary Gibson, author of “China Rx,” testified last year to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission about this critical dependence, but nothing has changed in this most vital of supply chains. The medicine story is repeated throughout the U.S. economy and the world. The unparalleled economic growth of China over the past generation has hollowed out domestic industries around the globe and also prevented other nations, such as Vietnam, from moving up the value-added chain. Many industries are quite frankly stuck with Chinese companies as their only or primary suppliers. Thus, the costs of finding producers other than China, what is known as “decoupling,” are exorbitant, and few countries currently can replicate China’s infrastructure and workforce. Rethinking the Chinese Model and Globalization The world never should have been put at risk by the coronavirus. Equally, it never should have let itself become so economically dependent on China. The uniqueness of the coronavirus epidemic is to bring the two seemingly separate issues together. That is why Beijing is desperate to evade blame, not merely for its initial incompetence, but because the costs of the system it has built since 1980 are now coming into long-delayed focus. Coronavirus is a diabolus ex machina that threatens the bases of China’s modern interaction with foreign nations, from tourism to trade, and from cultural exchange to scientific collaboration. Xi can best avoid this fate by adopting the very transparency that he and the party have assiduously avoided. Yet openness is a mortal threat to the continued rule of the CCP. The virus thus exposes the CCP’s mortal paradox, one which shows the paralysis at the heart of modern China. For this reason alone, the world’s dependence on China should be responsibly reduced. To begin with, Washington must mandate that some significant percentage of major drugs, everyday medicines, first-aid material such as masks and gowns, and higher-end medical equipment like ventilators, will be produced domestically, so that we are better prepared for the next pandemic. In addition, controlling our own supply of vital medicines and equipment will allow Washington to continue to be able to assist other countries during similar emergencies, something we are not able to do with coronavirus and which Beijing is stepping in to take advantage of. Second, America’s broader economic dependence on China needs to be reduced. Materials such as rare earths, 80% of which come from China, should be produced at home when possible, while the U.S. military needs to limit its exposure to Chinese goods for everything from transistors to tire rubber. Thirdly, Washington must ensure that China does not capture the global semiconductor chip-making industry, which is a priority for Beijing. To surrender the crown jewel of the digital economy would put America in a position of permanent dependence vis-à-vis China. The coronavirus pandemic is a turning point for China and the world. Today, Washington and other global capitals are solely responsible for the success or failure of their own efforts to control the Wuhan virus. In the short term, however, they should not let Mr. Xi and China get away with rewriting the history of the epidemic. In the longer run, they must look to reform globalization by prudently reshaping their economies and societies in the shadow of future crises. Michael Auslin is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of “Asia’s New Geopolitics.” https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/03/18/beijing_fears_covid-19_is_turning_point_for_china_globalization__142686.html
  17. This was so clearly nonsense form the beginning. The US has no more ability to seize shipments at Bangkok's airports than Thailand has to seize shipments at US airports. What kind of idiot wire services would even repeat such "news"?
  18. The Chinese Government Has Convinced Its Citizens That the U.S. Army Brought Coronavirus to Wuhan U.S. Army sergeant Maatje Benassi was among several hundred U.S. service men and women who traveled to Wuhan to take part in the Military World Games in October. But, according to a widely-believed conspiracy theory, the 52-year-old road racing cyclist carried something else with her on her trip to China: The coronavirus. The story has no grounding in fact. It was a fairy tale dreamed up by U.S. conspiracy theorist George Webb in Washington, DC. But the Communist Party of China (CCP) has promoted it so aggressively within China that it has become accepted knowledge among the Chinese populace that the U.S. military imported the coronavirus to Wuhan and began the pandemic that has killed over 50,000 people and infected more than a million worldwide. It’s difficult to say how many Chinese people accept the conspiracy as true, but the CCP’s promotion of the idea across social networks WeChat and Weibo, as well as amplification through state-run TV, has made it inescapable in Chinese society. Indeed, any Chinese person who disputes that narrative on social media can have their account shut down and their families arrested. “I couldn't argue against the posts that the virus was brought to China by the U.S. military even though I knew it was a lie because any evidence I post against the Chinese government propaganda will be deleted, the Wechat group can be deleted, my account will be suspended and I can put my family in danger,” one Chinese American named Zhang, who did not want to be named over fears of retribution, told VICE News. Globally, Beijing’s efforts to deflect criticism and pin the blame on the U.S. have been hit and miss, but at home, the effort has been hugely successful. More than half a dozen China experts say there is widespread acceptance of the narrative which has found a receptive audience thanks to decades of anti-US indoctrination and a complete lack of an independent media or access to outside sources. “Sadly most Chinese people really believe the U.S. brought the virus to China and they call it ‘USA virus,’” Lucy, a 45-year-old Chinese American who recently returned to China to take care of her parents, told VICE News. “The CCP’s anti-American propaganda is very successful.” The ‘USA virus’ Conspiracy theories around the origin of the coronavirus are not unique to China. We have seen everyone from celebrities sharing a video claiming Bill Gates created the coronavirus to Sen. Tom Cotton claiming the disease was deliberately created in a virology lab in Wuhan. But what is unique to China is the inability for most citizens in the country to fact-check the claims being made by official CCP outlets, or to seek any independent information outside China’s Great Firewall, which blocks access to most western news outlets and other sources of information, such as Google and Wikipedia. READ: Here's how China is rewriting the history of the coronavirus pandemic to make itself the hero Chinese citizens are fully aware that their government censors criticism of Beijing on WeChat and Weibo while pushing messages that portray it in a positive light. They’re also aware of the consequences for challenging that or for seeking outside information. “When the government spreads disinformation about other countries and blocks counter-narratives, it is much easier for people to buy into government’s narratives because you just don’t have access to alternative sources of information,” Yaqui Wang, a China researcher at Human Rights Watch, told VICE News. And when it comes to claims about the U.S. Chinese people have been conditioned to believe the worst. CCP disinformation about the U.S. is nothing new, through textbooks, movies and many other educational, cultural, and media productions, Beijing has been increasingly promoting the narrative that the U.S. is an imperialist power that wants to undermine the rise of China. “Chinese media doesn’t need much effort to convince its people of that blatant lie that the U.S. army brought the disease to Wuhan, most Chinese people, after 70 years of anti-American propaganda, are already convinced the U.S. is an evil country and is responsible for many bad events in the world,” Lucy said. Viral on WeChat Inside of China the conspiracy spread rapidly through WeChat, a messaging app that is so deeply integrated into Chinese life that losing your account means losing access to banking, online shopping, ordering taxis and much more. According to Zhang, the conspiracy theory was shared in multiple WeChat groups they were in, and in such a way that it looked like a coordinated effort. “A few weeks ago, I started to see posts about the virus was brought to China by the U.S. military,” the source said. “All the posts appeared in different WeChat groups at around the same time. Keep in mind most WeChat groups are completely independent of each other. For the same posts to show up in all the large WeChat groups at the same time, it has to have the government behind it.” The CCP has a huge amount of control over how WeChat operates and has already shown its willingness to use that power to control the coronavirus narrative. It has banned WeChat users inside the country who have shared anything vaguely negative about the government’s response to coronavirus, it has silenced overseas WeChat users without their knowledge, and it has ramped up the level of censorship on the topic of coronavirus as the epidemic escalated. READ: Wuhan's crematoriums are filling thousands of urns with coronavirus remains each day The fact China has not banned this topic from being discussed on WeChat shows that it is happy for it to continue to be disseminated. “The topic has been widely discussed on WeChat and Weibo,” one Hong Kong-based social media researcher known by the Twitter handle Chelsea, told VICE News. “The CCP doesn’t censor the discussion of origin. As most Chinese think the virus is not from China. I think this is the direction that CCP want it to keep going.” The view is backed up by Victor Shih, a China expert at the University of California. “Although the Chinese government and Chinese tech companies have demonstrated numerous times that they have the capacity to stop rumors and forwards from going viral on WeChat using censorship tools, they have not chosen to stop this groundless theory from circulating among Chinese communities,” Shih told VICE News. But unlike previous anti-U.S. propaganda, this time around Beijing is also seeking to sow disinformation further afield. “What is new this time is that China is doing this kind of disinformation externally, on Twitter, a platform blocked in China, and through its external-facing media outlets,” Wang said. Origins of a conspiracy theory Research published this week by the Stanford Internet Observatory shows that the seeds of the conspiracy go back at least to January, when news of the virus in Wuhan. It is unclear when the conspiracy theory was first floated or by whom, but it had gained enough traction by the turn of the year that on Jan. 2, a Chinese-language YouTube channel shared a video dismissing the idea that the pneumonia in Wuhan was the result of U.S. genetic warfare. READ: China is trying to rewrite the history of silenced coronavirus whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang It was around this time that whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang tried to warn friends about a growing pneumonia-like virus spreading in his hospital in Wuhan — before the government silenced him. The researcher said that because “platforms have pledged to remove disinformation related to the origin of the coronavirus, and our research started in mid-March, some materials could have been removed.” Throughout January and February, the conspiracy theory continued to filter through on platforms like YouTube and Twitter which are banned in China and the English-language versions of China’s state-backed media also began boosting the unfounded claims. Then, in March, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gave the conspiracy the CCP’s seal of approval, tweeting that “It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” A week later he doubled down on the claim, citing Webb’s conspiracy theory about Benassi being coronavirus patient zero, without a shred of evidence. Beijing’s reason for persisting with these claims is simple. While people are discussing and debunking these conspiracy theories, they are not talking about its initial failings in responding to the outbreak and the questions being raised over the veracity of the figures it has shared about the outbreak. “Propaganda like this largely serves the leadership's interests in that it takes attention away from other problems in China,” one of the co-founders of GreatFire.org, an organization that tracks China’s online censorship, told VICE News, using the pseudonym Charlie Smith. “You — and many of your peers — are covering this story now instead of covering other, more truthful, and likely hurtful, stories. It's a waste of everyone's time except The Party's.” https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/wxe9yq/the-chinese-government-has-convinced-its-citizens-that-the-us-army-brought-coronavirus-to-wuhan?utm_campaign=sharebutton&fbclid=IwAR15fOb679XGAeLhvXw0On1Yg-jiosYLXf3o1k7w_uwV0W1j8k7m1fUJ1s4
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