China continues to try to shape the coronavirus narrative, and not just within its own borders. Beijing has upped its intelligence efforts in the U.S. in an attempt to deflect blame for the COVID-19 pandemic.
China seeks to control coronavirus narrative in U.S.
Sources reportedly told Fox News that China is boosting its spy game on U.S. soil to try to manipulate the coronavirus narrative. Intelligence officials interviewed by the news outlet said Beijing's main focus is to control the narrative inside the U.S. and push blame in any direction other than on itself.
One source said the American public will demand a financial response in connection with the pandemic, "if not outright reparations in the many billions." A retired Pentagon officer said China's media operations have shifted slightly from their usual focus on IP and technology theft. The source said it's about leaking false information within the U.S.
It isn't just China's covert operations seeking to deflect blame and control the coronavirus narrative in the U.S. According to Reuters, China's ambassador to the U.S. took a veiled swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump today by criticizing politicians for making "groundless accusations" which draw attention away from the science of COVID-19.
Cui Tiankai made the remark during a Bloomberg webcast. He defended Beijing's handling of the coronavirus, which Trump and others have criticized for not being transparent enough. He also accused the media of spreading rumors and speculations about China's handling of the virus.
Americans are turning negative on China
Reuters reports (via Yahoo! News) that Missouri became the first U.S. state to file a lawsuit against the Chinese government for its handling of COVID-19. The civil suit alleges negligence and that Missouri and its residents suffered economic damages amounting to tens of billions of dollars. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said Beijing "lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease."
The lawsuit confirms what the Pew Research Center found about Americans turning increasingly negative on China amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization found that about two-thirds of Americans now say they have an unfavorable view of China. That's the most negative finding for the country since Pew began asking about it in 2005. It's also up almost 20 percentage points since President Trump took office.