China has withdrawn from the online spread of conspiracy theories in developing countries that claims the US is involved in the coronavirus pandemic after finding limited traction, a US official said on Friday.
The State Department's Global Engagement Center, which is responsible for analyzing and fighting foreign propaganda, said China has praised its own success in containing the virus and highlighted the provision of aid abroad.
"We estimate that the PRC official news in Africa shows that it may have canceled this disinformation campaign, particularly because the coronavirus is from the United States," said Lea Gabrielle, the center's coordinator.
"We also see something similar in the western hemisphere," she told reporters.
She said the analysis of the Chinese government's social media posts from March 13-15 showed "mostly negative reactions" in Africa to the conspiracy theory.
Earlier this month, a spokesman for the Chinese State Department, Zhao Lijian, suggested on Twitter that the U.S. military may have brought the new corona virus to Wuhan, the metropolis where cases were first discovered late last year.
The State Department called the conspiracy theory "ridiculous" and called the Chinese ambassador together.
President Donald Trump later cited the episode because of its controversial use of the term "Chinese virus" to describe the new corona virus, which has made more than half a million people sick worldwide.
Gabrielle said that China has also advertised on social media that Trump's terminology is racist.
China has increasingly welcomed the discussion of the epidemic, which made up about 60 percent of its official social media posts in Africa in mid-March, after no discussion at all in early January.
China has made a "concerted effort" to build a social media following, "to convince people to act responsibly in providing aid," said Gabrielle.
She said Russia remains the main concern.
In reviews provided to AFP last month, the Global Engagement Center said that thousands of social media accounts linked to Russia have launched a coordinated campaign to undermine official narratives, including by alleging involvement by the USA.
"We are still seeing the Kremlin continue its ruthless attempts to spread disinformation," said Gabrielle.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)