Chinese Media in Fake News Claim Swiss Scientist Criticizes United States | China

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Chinese state media articles citing a Swiss biologist accusing the United States of politicizing investigations into the origin of Covid have been quietly suppressed, after the Swiss government said such a person did not exist.

On July 24, a Facebook post from an account named Wilson Edwards claimed to have witnessed or had knowledge of US efforts to politicize from within the World Health Organization’s investigations into Covid-19.

Edwards cited anonymous sources from the WHO and “fellow researchers” complaining that he had been subjected to “enormous pressure and even intimidation from the United States as well as certain media”.

“WHO sources told me that the United States is so obsessed with China’s attack on origin tracing that they are reluctant to open their eyes to the data and the results. . “

The Facebook post was widely picked up by Chinese state media, including the Global Times, People’s Daily – which headlined its article as “US attempts to reverse report, using WHO as political tool” – China Daily and CGTN in several languages.

Edwards’ growing fame caught the attention of the Swiss Embassy, ​​prompting staff to search citizen files and academic publications for any mention of him. On Tuesday, he posted on Twitter: “In search of Wilson Edwards, alleged [Swiss] biologist, quoted in the press and social networks in China in recent days. If you exist, we would love to meet you! It said.

“But it is more likely to be a [sic] fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and internet users to remove the posts. “

An attached statement stated that the Chinese reports were false and that there was no registered Swiss citizen named Wilson Edwards, nor any academic article in the field of biology under his name.

Chinese state media articles began to disappear from the internet on Wednesday, including the Global Times and the CGTN. The Wilson Edwards Facebook account – which was set up the same day he posted his only post, along with a profile photo from an Oxford University library, and only had three friends – also appeared to have been deleted.

People’s Daily Facebook posts and at least one China Daily article remained online Wednesday afternoon.

The origins of the Covid-19 virus, still unknown, have become a key point of hostility between China and other countries – notably the United States.

China has consistently rejected theories and accusations that the virus could come from a lab leak in Wuhan. A January investigation by a joint China-WHO team – which was criticized for its lack of transparency and access amid allegations that investigators had not received the data they requested – determined that the laboratory leak theory was less likely than other scenarios, but did not rule it out. .

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later said the pressure to dismiss the theory had been “premature”, but China seized on the discovery. He has since refused to cooperate with a WHO proposal to further explore the possibility and audit Chinese laboratories as part of the next phase of the investigation. Instead, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and state media have heavily pushed for unproven theories that the virus has leaked from a U.S. facility.

The Guardian has contacted Chinese media for comment.


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