In early 2020, Chinese propagandists began blaming the U.S. for the virus. One agit-prop anti-America howler accused a U.S. Army reservist of bringing the disease to China in October 2019. China’s 2020 lie mimicked a Cold War-era Soviet KGB lie about the origin of the AIDS virus. Kremlin communists claimed U.S. biological warfare scientists created AIDS in 1973. The KGB lie appeared circa 1983. Over time, the lie mutated, as all sick gossip does. A 1986 version I read in a Southeast Asian paper claimed that the virus was engineered to kill black and brown people. In 2002, while visiting east Africa, I heard this version again.
Twenty-first-century Chinese and Russian lies have become both more pervasive and more sophisticated in targeting audiences with disinformation that seeds fear, doubt, despair, anger and confusion.