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Russia, China, Iran using similar themes in disinformation campaigns: report

Russia, China, Iran using similar themes in disinformation campaigns: report
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Russia, China and Iran are using similar narratives to promote disinformation campaigns against the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a State Department report obtained by Politico. 

The three countries are pushing campaigns that suggest the virus came from U.S. troops and that it’s an American bioweapon being used for political purposes. The campaigns also claim that the three countries are managing the pandemic better than the United States, which has more reported cases than all three combined.  

State-owned media and government ministries alike are pushing the false narratives. According to Politico, Russia’s defense ministry has pushed a conspiracy theory that Bill Gates played a role in creating the virus. 

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The report noted that the three countries were not quite as in sync with messaging until February 2020. The State Department suggests this is a response to growing unrest within citizens of their countries. 

“What we saw as the health crisis started to come under control in China is that the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] really started pushing a concerted effort to try to re-shape that narrative,” Lea Gabrielle, coordinator of State Department’s Global Engagement Center, told Politico. 

The new coronavirus, like the 2003 SARS outbreak, is believed by some disease experts to have originated from a wet market in China. Dozens of U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for a closure of the country's wet markets.

“So in a short period of time the CCP went from letting Russian disinformation claiming the U.S. was the source of the virus proliferate in Chinese social media, to raising questions on state media about the origin’s source, to promoting disinformation that the U.S. was the source of the virus,” Gabrielle said.