The first patient detected with COVID-19 was in December 2019 in Wuhan, says the World Health Organization (WHO). However, this news was hidden by the Chinese government for months. If the Chinese government used a propaganda campaign around Coronavirus, it is not the only topic on which it has shared misleading and untrue information. Here are the Chinese most shared claims of the year, of which none are legit.


Claim: China declares that the coronavirus is not transmissible to humans

Facts: On December 31st 2019, The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission declared: “The investigation so far has not found any obvious human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infection.” This statement went on until January 20th, the last time The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission spread this news on their daily bulletin declaring: “no related cases were found among the close contacts.”

Truth: In late January, a WHO delegation went for a field visit to Wuhan and concluded that a “deployment of the new test kit nationally suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan.” Before that, newspapers like The Times and national organizations like the WHO, shared China’s misinformation which led to millions of people leaving Wuhan, carrying the virus all around the world.


Claim: China government blames the U.S for coronavirus

Facts: In March 2020, Trump’s national security advisor O’Brien said: “It probably cost the world community two months to respond, during which we could have dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world.”

Following this claim, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian replied on Twitter: “When did patient zero begin in US?

How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Zhao wrote.

Truth: As the World Health Organisation says on its website, “The first human cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, subsequently named SARS-CoV-2 were first reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019.”


Claim: Care workers in French nursing homes had abandoned their jobs, leaving residents to die

Facts: A French written article published on the Chinese embassy website said that care workers in Western nursing homes had abandoned their jobs, leaving residents to die.

The article adds that 80 French lawmakers had co-signed a statement about the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “The WHO has been the subject of a real siege on the part of the Western countries, some even launching ad-hominem attacks against its Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,” reads the text.

“The Taiwanese authorities, supported by more than 80 French parliamentarians in a co-signed declaration, even used the word ‘negro’ to attack him. I still do not understand what could have gone through the heads of all these French elected representatives,” continues the article.

Truth: After the publication of these allegations, the Taiwanese government replied saying that “the Chinese embassy in France’s tweet created something out of nothing.” Reuters confirms that no evidence was found to prove that French lawmakers shared these words nor that Taiwanese authorities insulted Tedros. After the polemical article was published, the Chinese embassy shared a response declaring: “We hope that there is no misunderstanding, the Chinese side has never made a negative comment on French management of the epidemic, and has no intention of doing so.” However, the article was left on the embassy’s website.


Claim: China warned of pneumonia being worse than COVID-19 in Kazakhstan

Facts: On July 9th, China’s embassy in Kazakhstan warned Chinese citizens on social media app WeChat, that there had been a “significant increase” in the outbreak of pneumonia’s cases in the central Asian nation. It described the disease as “much deadlier'' than the coronavirus pandemic.

Truth: On July 10th, Kazakhastan’s health ministry debunked the information shared in Chinese media, describing the embassy statement as a “Fake News” and said: "The information published by some Chinese media regarding a new kind of pneumonia in Kazakhstan is incorrect.”

The WHO reacted at a press conference on July 10. Michael Ryan, executive director of the health emergency management program, said the pneumonia could actually be cases of Covid-19 that were misdiagnosed, due to poor quality tests.

“Although we believe that many of these cases will be diagnosed with Covid-19, we keep an open mind. We are working with local authorities to make sure this is the case,” the doctor said.


Claim: Image shows Australian soldier killing Afghan child

Facts: A post on Twitter by Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, shows an image of an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife around the neck of a child with a lamb in his arms. “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, call for holding them accountable,” reads the message that follows the post.

Truth: According to information from several fact-checking outlets, the shared image was digitally manipulated.

In response to Lijian's post, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, demanded an apology from the Chinese government and said Beijing should be "ashamed" for sharing a "disgusting" image. Lijian's post came after the Australian Defense Force announced it had found "reliable information" that 25 Australian soldiers were involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013.


Claim: China suggests Italy may be the birthplace of COVID-19 pandemic

Facts: Chinese state media have spread the idea that Italy could be the birthplace of the COVID pandemic. To support this claim, the government and media have used a study run by the National Cancer Institute (INT) of the Italian city of Milan that revealed evidence of coronavirus circulating in the European country three months before it was confirmed to be spreading in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “This once again shows that tracing the virus’s source is a complex scientific question that should be left to scientists.” - “[It] is a developing process that can involve multiple countries,” he added.

Truth: A virologist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, Professor Jonathan Stoye interviewed by The Guardian said that the samples from the cancer unit seem “weak”.“The serological data [from Italy] can most likely be explained by cross-reactive antibodies directed against other coronaviruses.” Therefore, antibodies found by the cancer unit in Italy had been released in people who had been infected by other coronaviruses different from COVID-19.

The virologist added: “What appears certain is that the first recorded cases of the disease were in China.” “It thus remains most likely that the virus originated in China,” added Stoye as reported by The Guardian.


Claim: China accuses the pope of sharing “groundless remarks” about Uighurs

Facts: The pope has released his book “Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future,” on December 1st, in which he writes: “I often think of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi.”

After reading this comment, Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rejected this claim about Uighurs by saying during a press conference: “The Chinese government has always protected the legal rights of ethnic minorities equally. People of all ethnicities in Xinjiang enjoy full protection of their subsistence rights, developmental rights and religious freedom.” “The remarks by Pope Francis are groundless,” Zhao added.

Truth: The Uighurs community shared a strong dossier of evidence to the International Criminal Court in July proving that China locked more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in camps and forced sterilization on women. The ICC decided on December 14th that they were unable to act due to the facts that the alleged crimes happened on the territory of China, which is not a signatory to The Hague-based ICC, AFP reports.

However, the Uighurs are supported by faith leaders, activist groups and governments that named the situation as “crimes against humanity” and as a “genocide” killing more than 1 million people held in camps, as Reuters reports.