China’s COVID-19 Propaganda Offensive

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The Chinese Communist Party’s latest propaganda offensive has targeted the United States squarely in the stars and stripes. This week has seen Chinese government officials, and media representatives come out and directly attack the US, and purposely spread misinformation about COVID-19. Beijing is now attempting to deny that the virus started in Wuhan, and has in fact blamed the US for creating the virus, and subsequent outbreak. China’s reason for this shift in propaganda tactics is producing a number of theories that are not outside the realm of possibility. One theory is that China is attempting to flip responsibility for COVID-19 on the US because its now fragile global reputation cannot absorb another hit. The Chinese government is reeling from a number of policy failures, and misjudgments over the past two years. Another is that the Chinese government plans to use the COVID-19 crisis as the basis for a renewed propaganda offensive that will debilitate America’s global power. This theory holds some water too.

A third theory has been quietly circulating. In recent days it has started to gain some momentum. It is that the Chinese government’s extensive propaganda efforts against the US are for the benefit of a domestic audience, not an international one. A sizeable chunk of Chinese citizens are troubled by the actions their government took to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. With all of the other problems on its plate, the Chinese government does not need internal discontent to rise. It makes sense to try and lay the blame on the US, conveniently providing Beijing with a scapegoat.

There are also reports that not everyone in the Chinese Communist Party is happy with President  Xi Jinping’s actions with regard to handling the coronavirus. However, it is fair to say that any discontent over Xi is probably not limited solely to his coronavirus response. The Hong Kong unrest, and slowing economy have also contributed as well. Although Xi’s hold on power may appear to be complete, it will take but the slightest misstep for him, and everything he’s built to collapse.

That could be a main reason why the Chinese government now seems so desperate to pin the blame for COVID-19 on the US.

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