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Monday, May 18, 2020
Geopolitical Polarization: The Rumors Behind the Pandemic in China and the United States
ANBOUND

The Covid-19 pandemic that has swept across the world has not only severely impacted the economy and led to a global economic crisis, but also caused the deterioration of international geopolitical relations as well. In this pandemic, many rumors and false information have appeared in China and the United States about one other. These rumors are rampant and exist on levels ranging from private to official sectors, causing both countries to hurl accusations at one another and to face many controversies.

Rumors about the United States that are circulating in China include talks about how the novel coronavirus was brought to Wuhan by an American soldier, a rumor that even the spokespeople of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs soke of. It was said that news of a biological laboratory that was shut down by the U.S. military is the prime suspect, and that the U.S.’ reasons for shutting it down were never fully disclosed. In the United States, rumors about China are even more widespread. Firstly, there were claims that the virus was created in a Chinese lab, and that it was leaked out of the laboratory. In fact, U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have spoken about this numerous times in public. Secondly, the U.S. believes the Chinese government deliberately withheld information about the pandemic and did not inform the world of the situation, and in doing so, allowing it to spread across the world, which resulted in the chaos that we have today.

Still, professionals regard these conspiracy theories with the utmost rationality. Experts around the world including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the United States, as well as professional organizations such as The LANCET and WHO, have dismissed rumors of the virus being created in a Chinese lab. The New York Times has also reported that the U.S. government is pressuring the intelligence community to support claims that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, though no public evidence supports the claim thus far.

Still, the remarks made have nonetheless aroused suspicions in many Western countries, with the U.S. and Australia pushing for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus in China out of geopolitical reasons, what more with the pandemic getting worse in the United States. President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and members of Congress have increasingly attacked and accused China. With the U.S. election nearing, bashing China has become a bipartisan tool in U.S. politics. President Trump's latest battle with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sees him accusing the Democrat of being “pro-China” and lenient towards the country.

A case tracked by ANBOUND’s research team shows the U.S. government is clearly resorting to disinformation to attack China. In response to a reporter’s question, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said on May 3 that there was ample evidence that suggest the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan. While the media has repeatedly demanded for the evidence to be presented forward, Pompeo has yet to disclose the source of the "evidence". On May 18, the Daily Beast published the "Wuhan Virus Research Institute leak virus" report. According to the Daily Beast, the 30-page report was produced by the Multi-Agency Collaboration Environment (MACE), a part of Sierra Nevada, a major Department of Defense contractor.

The MACE report, which has been reviewed by ANBOUND researchers, claims to rely on social media postings, commercial satellite imagery, and cellphone location data to draw on the conclusion that some sort of “hazardous event” occurred at the Wuhan virology lab on October 2019. However, the Daily Beast’s analysis shows obvious factual and logic errors in the report. According to the report, China had blocked traffic around the Wuhan virology lab following the "supposed accident" and there was reduced cellphone location data on a highway near the lab. The report suggested that Chinese officials were aware of the leak and were trying to prevent passersby from becoming infected, citing a "drop in local traffic." However, images collected by Maxar Technologies satellites showed there were still vehicles on the road near the Wuhan virology lab on October 17. Clearly, the satellite imagery that the Sierra Nevada analyzed were factually inaccurate.

Another reason cited by the MACE report was "there was a signal gap between October 6 and 24 based on the signal tracking of seven mobile devices" and it is speculated that "there was a leak." However, it’s too small a sample size to prove anything, especially when some devices showed similar absences in March and April 2019. Therefore, these “evidences” that suggest a disappearance in signal cannot fully support the claims of a "virus leakage".

An American intelligence official described the report as a “string of open-source facts strung together.” As a professional information analysis agency, ANBOUND believes that open-source information can also be used to analyze hidden events. Unfortunately, these so-called "open-source facts" listed in the MACE report make it impossible to draw a professional conclusion of a "virus leakage" in the Wuhan virology lab. These so-called inferences, which lack logic and coherence that were loosely pieced together, are merely information analysis with poorly drawn conclusions. And to support these U.S. government policies based on these conclusions is to be biased and wrong.

Why do government outsourcers hold such great influence on U.S. government decisions? ANBOUND's researchers have analyzed the issue and concluded that many political consulting firms are active member in the American political ecology, and they influence the government’s decision-making process to a considerable extent. Based on Pompeo's accusation of the Wuhan virus leak, we know that if these unprofessional political consulting companies and contract service contractors can provide misleading analysis or create leverage for political purposes, which directly results in policy mistakes on the U.S. government’s end.

ANBOUND has been setting up an emergency response team to track Covid-19 since January 26 this year and has provided their comments on the matter - (1) The stories of a “leak” from the Wuhan virology lab is not true. As a research institution, it is possible that the institute had some regulatory problems, but the leaks about the outbreak is a myth. In fact, there may be regulatory problems in virus research in every country, as is in China and the United States too. (2) Relevant rumors frequently appear in the United States. This is a political need for the American election, and the Republican government urgently needs to detract the public’s attention from the government’s inactivity. (3) The world knows the coronavirus is not synthetic and that the outbreak was not caused by a laboratory leak. The United States government and President Trump cannot afford to be ignorant of that, as creating and spreading such rumors for political purposes is a waste of U.S. national resources. (4) The constant rumors and accusations between China and the United States show that the confrontation between both countries is getting extreme. In fact, the animosity between them has been intensifying over the past two years, and it shows in the trade war between China and the United States, the adjustment of China's strategic positioning by the United States, the war of science and technology, the war of finance, and the confrontation caused by Covid-19.

Final Analysis Conclusion:

The rumors about the Covid-19 outbreak between China and the United States are a manifestation of the growing animosity between both countries and they should prevent their relationship from polarizing based on geopolitical tendencies, as it spells danger for both countries and the rest of the world.

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