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Pentagon's despicable act drags US to new low: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2024-06-17 19:40
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The US Capitol building is seen in Washington, DC, on Nov 8,2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

It is no surprise that the United States Defense Department has not confirmed reports that the US military committed what some observers have called an "indefensible" crime against humanity. Nor is it surprising that it has not denied it, given the evidence stacked against it.

According to a Reuters report, the US military launched a clandestine program during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to smear Chinese vaccines and other life-saving medical supplies.

The particular campaign identified by Reuters was apparently intended to counter what the US perceived as China's growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus, through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos. According to the report, social media posts were used to undermine trust in the quality of Chinese face masks, test kits and a Sinovac vaccine, the first to be available in the Philippines.

Reuters identified at least 300 accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that matched descriptions shared by former US military officials familiar with the operation. Almost all of these accounts were created in the middle of 2020 and employed the hashtag "#Chinaangvirus" — Tagalog for "China is the virus".

"COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don't trust China!" one typical tweet from July 2020 read. The words were posted next to a photo of a syringe beside a Chinese flag and a soaring chart of infections. Another post read: "From China — PPE, Face Mask, Vaccine: FAKE. But the Coronavirus is real."

Ironically, X removed the posts immediately following the report, stating they were part of a coordinated bot campaign based on activity patterns and internal data.

According to the findings of the report, the US military's dirty anti-vaccine game began in the spring of 2020 and expanded beyond Southeast Asia. The Pentagon tailored the campaign to local audiences across Central Asia and the Middle East using a combination of fake social media accounts on multiple platforms to spread fear of China's vaccines among Muslims at a time when the virus was killing tens of thousands of people each day.

One senior US military officer whom Reuters described as directly involved with the propaganda campaign in Southeast Asia told the outlet that "we didn't do a good job sharing vaccines with partners", so "what was left to us was to throw shade on China's".

While China was trying its best to provide vaccines to hard-hit countries and regions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US not only repeatedly obstructed efforts to lift the patents on vaccines to enable them to be more widely distributed but also spread misinformation to smear China's life-saving efforts.

That dirty deed cost lives.

It seems that there are no limits to the depths to which the US is willing to sink.

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