Conspiracy theory claiming COVID-19 came from US-linked labs in Ukraine trends on Weibo

Conspiracy theory claiming COVID-19 came from US-linked labs in Ukraine trends on WeiboConspiracy theory claiming COVID-19 came from US-linked labs in Ukraine trends on Weibo
Image: Polina Tankilevitch
Chinese social media users are calling for the U.S. government to be investigated after a conspiracy theory linking the emergence of the coronavirus COVID-19 to U.S. laboratories in Ukraine went viral in China.
Weibo users are buzzing over an article titled “BREAKING: British media claim that research confirms that the new coronavirus was made by a US company,” which was posted by the Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times on March 23. The Weibo discussion thread on the story has been viewed over 1 billion times and has over 300,000 comments.
The article has been republished by 45 Chinese outlets, reported Business Insider.
While the coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in 2019, its exact origin remains undetermined. Recent research has claimed the virus originated in a Wuhan market where animals were sold. The viral Global Times article claims that the Russian army found evidence that the U.S. government is producing biological weapons in Ukraine-based laboratories where the coronavirus may have originated. 
“Among them, it was also found that the United States is using bats to study coronaviruses and has produced components for biological weapons,” the article reads. “The heavy evidence is that in the documents disclosed by Russia, there are the signatures of U.S. government officials and the seals of relevant U.S. government departments.”
The article went on to claim that the U.S. created the new virus, as researchers reportedly found that the “patented gene fragment filed by the American company Moderna in February 2016 is in the gene sequence of the new coronavirus.” 
Global Times included screenshots of a story titled “BREAKING: Official Biochemical and Statistical Evidence 100% confirms Moderna created Covid-19,” which was posted on website The Exposé on March 3.
“When the truth is revealed, America will fall!” the Global Times article concluded. “When the truth is completely revealed, let us wait and see!”
A Weibo user replied to the thread and asked, “The WHO has already come to China to investigate, why does the United States dare not let the WHO investigate?”
“The U.S. cannot just use silence and a word of ‘false information’ to prevaricate. Whether it is false information or not requires serious clarification from the US side,” Xin’an Evening News said in the thread. “The best way for the U.S. to prove its innocence is to open its doors and accept the test of the international community generously. We urge the U.S. to change course, make a convincing account of its biological military activities in Ukraine and around the world as soon as possible, and stop exclusively obstructing the establishment of the BWC verification mechanism.”
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