Cults, the Democratic Progressive Party and Monkeypox

Lately, Taiwan’s pro-Democratic Progressive Party news media have suddenly launched an unbridled smear campaign online against the Chinese mainland, asserting that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has a history of studying the monkeypox virus, implying that the virus originated from this laboratory.

This rumor, however, traces back not to Taiwanese media but to the online publications of the Falun Gong cult, which is hiding in exile in the United States. On top of this, the rumor that passed through Falun Gong can be traced deeper to another layer yet, one of of U.S. origin — the U.S. far-right, fake-news website comically named “The National Pulse.”

The most interesting thing to point out is that this U.S. far-right conspiracy theory website, cited as a credible source by pro-DPP media, has not only long been a promoter of racism and white supremacy. It also fervently supports former U.S. President Donald Trump and opposes current President Joe Biden — yes, the same Biden who just two days ago responded affirmatively to the question, “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, if it comes to that?”

Let me tell you more about this tale of a sinister cult, the DPP, the United States and the monkeypox virus.

Over the past two days, various Taiwanese media affiliated with the DPP suddenly and simultaneously published inflammatory articles, now asserting even further that the “U.S. media uncovered that the Wuhan laboratory was conducting monkeypox virus experiments.” Evidently, these articles implying that the monkeypox virus originated in a Chinese mainland laboratory aim to vilify the mainland and deceive Taiwanese citizens.

On further investigation, I found that this claim by the DPP was originally published on the websites of the sinister Falun Gong cult. The title of the article there is even more malicious, directly asserting this new “Wuhan virus” is deliberately poisoning people.

However, whether it is the media arm of the DPP or Falun Gong websites, the reckless claim that the Wuhan laboratory was conducting monkeypox experiments comes not from U.S. media, but from a sole common U.S. source — that website called The National Pulse.

The National Pulse article refers to a research paper about DNA repair and recombinant DNA technology. Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology cut a small portion of the monkeypox virus genetic sequence for experimentation and it successfully assembled a quantitative polymerase chain reaction template that can be used to detect the monkeypox virus. Because this gene fragment is small, less than one-third of the gene sequence of the monkeypox virus, it is impossible to function as a virus, nor is it harmful to humans.

More importantly, many scientific studies have already verified that the monkeypox virus outbreak in Europe and the U.S. was a strain from West Africa. This strain is most similar to the virus that caused the monkeypox epidemic in Nigeria in recent years.

Therefore, The National Pulse defaming the Wuhan Institute of Virology is based on its own purely far-fetched fixation, created out of whole cloth; it can easily be seen through by anyone possessing basic scientific literacy.

The problem is that the readership of The National Pulse is not this sort. The readership of this website is primarily composed of extreme Trump supporters. Anti-intellectualism and populism have thoroughly brainwashed these people. They do not trust the science. They filter for conspiracy theories that cater to their tastes and support their false worldview.

Whether it is the Falun Gong spreading ignorance, the DPP officials who dupe the Taiwanese or the U.S. extreme right represented by The National Pulse, their compatibility in terms of values, caliber of the readership and hawkishness toward China prove they are all of the same ilk.

Indeed, during the Trump years, Falun Gong and DPP media were particularly active in flooding the U.S. right wing and China with populism and anti-intellectualism. Their content made money hand over fist. In the 2020 U.S. election, Falun Gong and pro-DPP media even helped the Trump camp to spread rumors, refusing to acknowledge Biden’s victory. On Jan. 6, 2021, they doubled down, whitewashing the riot on Capitol Hill initiated by Trump’s extremist supporters and amplifying the framing of the riots as a “Stop the Steal” rally.

Therefore, it is not at all surprising that Falun Gong cult and DPP-friendly media will help The National Pulse promote the extremely base, mindless argument that “the monkeypox virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

It is quite embarrassing for them that, aside from the scientific community and ordinary people with basic scientific literacy, even some U.S. right-wing media that are less extreme than The National Pulse are coming forward and calling the accusation against the Wuhan Institute of Virology groundless.

What is even more amusing is that some in the Western media who were previously spreading the rumor that COVID-19 came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology did not dare jump on this monkeypox train led by The National Pulse, worried that it would dispel the previous COVID-19 rumors they fabricated to discredit the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Therefore, this rumor, manufactured by The National Pulse and amplified by Falun Gong and pro-DPP media throughout the Chinese-speaking world, will neither damage China nor the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Rather, it will only deepen the ignorance of these sites’ followers, who are merely wasting time amusing each other.

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