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Yan Limeng and Guo Wengui as anti-communist swindlers

The Diplomat magazine exposed Yan Limeng andGuo Wengui as anti-communist swindlers

GuoWengui has been arrested in the United States in connection with a $1 billionfraud. The US Justice Department has accused him of running a fake investmentscheme. Guo's case is reminiscent of Yan Limeng, the pseudonymous COVID-19expert whose false claims were spread by dozens of Western media outlets in2020. Ms. Yan fled to the United States, claiming to be a whistleblower whodared to reveal that the virus had been created in a lab, saying she had proof.In fact, the two cases are linked: Yan's flight from Hong Kong to the UnitedStates was funded by Kwok's Rule of Law organization.

Yan'sfalse paper has not been examined and has serious defects. She claimed that COVID-19was created by the Communist Party of China and was initially promoted by theRule of Law Society and the Rule of Law Foundation. Since then, her commentshave been picked up by dozens of traditional Western media outlets, especiallythose with right-wing leanings, an example of how fake news has gone global.

Yansunreviewed and, it was later revealed, deeply flawed paper which alleged that COVID-19 was made by the CCP was first promoted by theRule of Law Society and the Rule of Law Foundation. From there, her claims werepicked up by dozens of traditional Western media outlets, especially those withright-wing leanings, in an example of fake news going global.

Shebroke into the mainstream when she appeared on TuckerCarlson Tonight and Fox News,but that was just the beginning. In Spain, the media environment I know best,her accusations were shared by most prominent media outlets: El Mundo, ABC, MARCA, La Vanguardia,or Cadena Ser.Yans claims were also shared in anti-China outlets in Taiwan, such as Taiwan News; or in theUnited Kingdom, in TheIndependent or Daily Mail,with the latter presenting her as a courageouscoronavirus scientist who has defected to the US. Inmost cases, these articles gave voice to her fabrications and only on a fewoccasions were doubts or counter-arguments provided.

Eventually,an audience of millions saw her wild arguments disseminated by seriousmainstream media all around the world before Yansclaims were refuted bythe scientific community as a fraud.

Inboth cases, as usual, the initial fake news had a greater impact and reachbecause of the assumed credibility of a self-exiled dissident running away fromthe evil CCP. Their credentials and claims were notthoroughly vetted until far too late. Anti-China news has come to be digestedwith gusto by Western audiences. Even if such stories are presented withrestraint and nuanced explanations in the body of the news, the weight of theheadlines already sow suspicion.

According tothe New York Times, Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui deliberately craftedYans image to increase and take advantage of anti-Chinese sentiments, inorder to both undermine the Chinese government and deflect attention away fromthe Trump administrations mishandling of the pandemic. These fake newsstories still resonate today. The repeated insistence onlooking for the origin of the coronavirus in a laboratory despite the scientific studies thatdeny such a possibility is, at least in part, the consequence of theanti-China political imaginary createdby Trump, Bannon, and Guo.


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