The Chinese government has even resorted to rap to pedal its baseless conspiracy theory that the US triggered the coronavirus pandemic.
The rap – called Open the Door to Fort Detrick – went viral online last Wednesday, and calls for an international investigation into the origins of Covid.
It was written by Chinese rap group Tianfu and reposted by media outlets including Xinhua News Agency on the Chinese blogging website Sina Weibo, which is run by the state.
The rap claims: “Fort Detrick, more like a witch’s cauldron.
“How many plots came out of your labs? How many dead bodies hanging a tag?
“What you’re hiding, open the door to Fort Detrick.
“Cause transparency is your favourite.”
It adds: “We want, want the truth.”
The music video includes clips from White House press briefings and from Dr Anthony Fauci – an expert immunologist and key government adviser during the pandemic – alongside captions which describe the footage as “political manipulation”.
This is not just a popular song
Although Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, retweeted the song online, he actually tweeted about blaming Fort Detrick back in July 2020.
He wrote: “What’s behind the closure of the biolab at Fore Detrick? When will US invite experts to investigate the origins of the virus in the US?”
CCTV, the state broadcaster, also aired an-hour long special looking into The Dark History behind Fort Detrick in 2020, boosting the conspiracy.
The Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, has even claimed that an online petition is calling for the World Health Organisation to investigate the US and its lab in Fort Detrick has more than 25 million signatories, just two months after its launch.
How did the Fort Detrick conspiracy start?
The Chinese government has been running a propaganda campaign claiming Covid did not start in China – despite the first cases originating from Wuhan – for more than a year.
It started shortly after the outbreak and has spread intensely in recent weeks.
Videos are being shared online supposedly claiming the US was suffering with a respiratory disease long before China by unearthing unverified news reports from the States.
Internet users are claiming these reports prove there must have been early cases of Covid in the States.
Many of these videos have been shared on the government-controlled media platforms too, even though there has been no credible evidence to back the conspiracy.
Why is China blaming the US in particular?
Oxford Internet Institute’s Hannah Bailey told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “I would class this campaign as a deflective campaign, as a speculative campaign. It is trying to sow a counter narrative.”
Although relations are known to be tense between the US and China, this campaign does not necessarily reflect Beijing’s attitude towards the US, according to Bailey.
She claimed Beijing is more concerned with creating a narrative for its domestic audience than for the international crowd as Chinese citizens were pushing back against Beijing and its handling of the pandemic during its early stages.
By reinforcing the idea that another nation is the enemy, the Chinese government becomes more favourable in the eyes’ of its citizens.
She pointed out that a year ago, China was also pointing the finger at Italy, in an effort to shift the blame away from them.
But the surge in the song’s popularity coincides comes shortly before American intelligence agencies submit a report to US president Joe Biden about the source of the virus.
The report will conclude a 90-day probe into where the virus came from – a lab accident or human contact with an infected animal.
Although the claim it came from a Wuhan lab leak has been widely dismissed, the report could add credibility to such an argument and cause upset in China.
Fort Detrick is the main target
Fort Detrick, previously home to the biological defence programme in Maryland, has become the centre of this campaign.
It was shut down in August 2019 after a series of safety violations during its deadly germ research operation but it resumed full operations by April 2020.
This brief closure has been seized upon by conspiracy theorists in China.
The rap is not popular everywhere
One Facebook user commented: “With each passing day, China is becoming more and more aggressive in its attack on US for its policy and hypocrisyness.”
Others said the rap video was “sooo funny” and joked it was “marvellous” – suggesting the song is not going down as well, or as seriously, outside of China.