Press Releases

Russia, China and Iran are waging disinformation war over coronavirus
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
March 3, 2020
New York Post
 
Malign actors in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and elsewhere are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to sow chaos through conspiracy theories — most heinously, the notion that the United States created the disease. This should come as no surprise, as the ruling regimes in these countries want to deflect from their abject failures and rarely miss an opportunity to blame America.
 
The slanders are outrageous. But such disinformation also risks fatal consequences to the populations that receive it. To combat disinformation, we must identify the sources of deception campaigns, educate the global community and equip foreign governments to combat it.
 
Beijing’s official outlets, for example, have accused the United States of over-hyping the pandemic for cynical purposes, with a foreign-ministry spokeswoman declaring that Washington had “taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions.” American actions, she said, “could only create and spread fear.”
 
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Russia is another leading voice in the disinformation campaign. American officials have noted the existence of networks of thousands of social-media accounts, many reportedly Kremlin-tied, with identical posts, publishing messages claiming that the virus is meant to “wage economic war on China” and propagate “anti-China messages.”
 
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Unfortunately, we are beginning to see the deadly consequences of these campaigns going global. In Qom, ground zero of Iran’s coronavirus outbreak, a prominent cleric accused the United States of introducing the virus “to damage [the city’s] culture and honor.” Disinformation from the Tehran regime is so widespread that even Iranians with normally positive opinions of America note with confidence that America is behind the outbreak.
 
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Responsible global powers must come together to fight the coronavirus pandemic and counter malicious, self-serving disinformation campaigns. If we don’t, those propagating these lies could slow efforts to respond — and cost lives.
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