China’s state-backed China Daily newspaper claimed on Monday that the United States started the AIDS crisis, saying it “spread to the world” after its discovery in the 1980s.
Quoting Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang, the paper wrote on Twitter, “AIDS was first discovered in the US in the 1980s and spread to the world, causing great agony for the world, has anyone held the US accountable?” The paper also quoted Shuang pinning the 2009 H1N1 Flu on the United States as well as the 2008 financial crisis.
The publication also pushed the line in a Monday column by Ronald Ng, described as a hematologist and former medical lecturer at the University of Hong Kong and London University, who faulted the U.S. for “stigmatizing homosexuals” as well as the Chinese.
“At one time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called it the 4H disease because it affected mainly homosexuals, heroin users, hemophiliacs and Haitians,” Ng wrote. “The media called it ‘gay-related immune deficiency.’ It wasn’t until September 1982 that the CDC officially named it AIDS. But the harm done in stigmatizing homosexuals was difficult to reverse.”
Ng said the U.S. was discriminating against Chinese people the same way: “We can see the same process happening now, with the coronavirus being politicized to stigmatize Chinese because the first known cases were detected in Wuhan.”
The paper, which has an office in Midtown Manhattan, has been the subject of scrutiny by members of Congress who say it has flouted lobbying rules under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. A group of senators including Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr in February asking the Justice Department to investigate “reports of repeated violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by the Chinese Communist Party-owned propaganda outlet, China Daily.”
The group noted China Daily “paid over 30 independent newspapers” to host “China Watch inserts,” which look like news articles portraying China’s Communist Party “in a positive light.” While the paper failed to report any advertising purchased earlier than 2012, a Washington Post spokesman told lawmakers the paper had been purchasing ads in the Post for more than 30 years.
China’s new line of attack with respect to AIDS comes after criticism that the country has discriminated against African immigrants in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Consulate General warned on April 13 that officials in China’s Guangzhou area “launched a round of mandatory tests for COVID-19, followed by mandatory self-quarantine, for anyone with ‘African contacts,’ regardless of recent travel history or previous quarantine completion,” and added that African Americans “have also reported that some businesses and hotels refuse to do business with them.”
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