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How U.S. Financed 'Human Rights' Organizations Create Anti-Chinese Headlines

By Moon Of Alabama

December 28, 2020 "Information Clearing House" -   During my daily skimming of the main stream media I at times detect news items that seem of little public interest but are widely published. These pieces are often suspiciously similar to each other and seem to come from the 'Mighty Wurlitzer':

In 1967 the magazine "Ramparts" ran an expose revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency had been secretly funding and managing a wide range of citizen front groups intended to counter communist influence around the world.
CIA official Frank Wisner called the operation his "mighty Wurlitzer," on which he could play any propaganda tune.

Today's 'Mighty Wurlitzer' song is played simultaneously by all major outlets:

From the BBC's version:

A Chinese citizen journalist who covered Wuhan's coronavirus outbreak has been jailed for four years.

Zhang Zhan was found guilty of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a frequent charge against activists.

The 37-year-old former lawyer was detained in May, and has been on hunger strike for several months. Her lawyers say she is in poor health.

Ms Zhang is one of several citizen journalists who have run into trouble for reporting on Wuhan.
In a video interview with an independent filmmaker before her arrest, Ms Zhang said she decided to travel to Wuhan in February after reading an online post by a resident about life in the city during the outbreak.

Once there, she began documenting what she saw on the streets and hospitals in livestreams and essays, despite threats by authorities, and her reports were widely shared on social media.

The rights group Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders said her reports also covered the detention of other independent journalists and the harassment of families of victims who were seeking accountability.

"Maybe I have a rebellious soul... I'm just documenting the truth. Why can't I show the truth?" she said in a clip of the interview obtained by the BBC.

"I won't stop what I'm doing because this country can't go backwards."

The "Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders" seems to be the source of much of this reporting. Who are these people? The About page of the CHRD's website does not reveal the people behind the organization nor who is financing it.

Two years ago a Grayzone report took a deeper look into the organization:

Reuters and other Western outlets have attempted to fill in the gaps left by McDougall, referring to reports made by so-called “activist group” the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

Conveniently left out of the story is that this organization is headquartered in Washington, DC and funded by the US government’s regime-change arm.

CHRD advocates full-time against the Chinese government, and has spent years campaigning on behalf of extreme right-wing opposition figures.
CHRD has used its generous funding to provide grants to opposition activists inside China, bankrolling dozens upon dozens of projects in the country.

On its tax forms, CHRD lists its address as the Washington, DC office of Human Rights Watch. HRW has long been criticized for its revolving door with the US government and its excessively disproportionate focus on designated enemies of Washington like China, Venezuela, Syria, and Russia.

Human Rights Watch did not respond to an email from The Grayzone inquiring about its relationship with CHRD.

Human Rights Watch's overpaid permanent leader is of course part of the 'Mighty Wurlitzer':

Kenneth Roth @KenRoth - 8:22 UTC · Dec 28, 2020

Beijing's selection of the sleepy period between Christmas and New Year's suggests even it is embarrassed to sentence citizen-journalist Zhang Zhan to four years in prison for having chronicled the uncensored version of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. https://nytimes.com/2020/12/25/wor...

The U.S. government funded CHRD lists Zhang Zhan on its 'Rights defenders' page. Its portrait of her includes some interesting details:

A former lawyer, Zhang Zhan, born in the 1980s, has long been active in speaking out about politics and the human rights situation in China. She has been repeatedly harassed and threatened by the authorities. In 2019, she spoke out on the Hong Kong protests by posting comments, writing articles and holding up placards to support the protesters. In September 2019, she was summoned by Shanghai police and was later criminally detained and arrested on suspicion of “picking quarrels” for her support for Hong Kong. Police released her on November 26, 2019.
Zhang Zhan had travelled to Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, in early February. She reported numerous stories including the detentions of other independent reporters and harassment of families of victims seeking accountability from the epicenter via her Wechat, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

Pudong procuratorate indicted Zhang Zhan on September 15 and transfered her case to Pudong New District Court. The indictment accused Zhang Zhan of traveling to Wuhan on February 3, 2020 and that she “sent a large amount of false information” on WeChat, Twitter, and YouTube and “accepted interviews with overseas media Radio Free Asia and Epoch Times and maliciously stirred up the Wuhan epidemic situation.”

(Note: I have found no hint why Zhang Zhan is called a 'former lawyer'. Was she disbarred? Why?)

ChinaAid, an anti-Chinese Evangelical lobby group which is also financed and awarded prices by the U.S. government's National Endowment for Democracy, identifies Zhang Zhan as a 'Christian lawyer'. That is of interest because Chinese authorities are concerned about U.S. financed underground Evangelical groups which defy the requirement to register as social organizations.

ChinaChange, which is another 'human rights' outlet in Washington DC, also took note of Zhang Zhan:

Zhang Zhan (张展), a lawyer who practiced in Shanghai, went to Wuhan in early February, determined to document the coronavirus outbreak in the city that was the epicenter of what would soon become a pandemic around the world. In the three months she stayed in the city, she made 122 posts on YouTube. It was not a coincidence that her first post was “My Claim for the Right of Free Speech.” Zhang Zhan was arrested in May, brought back to Shanghai, indicted in September on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” China’s all-in-one charge for suppressing dissent. She is being tried on Monday, December 28, in Shanghai.

Wuhan, where the first large outbreak of Covid-19 occurred, was put under lockdown on January 23. One wonders why a 'former lawyer' and 'citizen journalist' would go there despite official advice to not enter or leave the city.

A video published in late March by the Epoch Times, a right wing U.S. based paper associated with the anti-Chinese Falun Gong cult, gives a hint:

Dissident Protests ‘Animal-Like’ Treatment of Chinese Citizens

Zhang Zhan, a female dissident living in Shanghai, put herself in harm’s way to go to Wuhan after the city was locked down. Her plan was to investigate and broadcast the local situation as a citizen journalist. She is outraged that the Chinese government casually deprives the basic rights and freedom of Wuhan residents in the name of epidemic control.

In the video Zhang Zhan is standing at a light traffic barrier that blocks access to a quarantined housing block. She is ranting in a weepy voice at white clad guards and passerby. The Epoch Times translated the dialog:

Let me ask you,
Do you think the government can treat citizens like animals?
Lock them when the regime is willing to,
Send them out to work when they need these people to work.
Aren’t you treating them like you treat cattle and horses?
When animals need to graze you let them out
And take them back when they are done eating.
Is that for real?
And if they do not obey, whip them.
Is that how it should be?
Is it justified to treat civilians like this?

Man: What are you doing?

Woman: I want to express my protest against the government, persistent protest.

Shortly before the man asked Zhang Zhan what she was doing she had knocked over the traffic barrier.

Holding libertarian rants against pandemic measures and knocking over quarantine barrier while providing videos for anti-Chinese outlets is presumably 'citizen journalism'.

Wuhan had soon defeated the pandemic. But a few new infections in early May again raised alarm. The U.S. government financed Radio Free Asia reported hearsay of it:

Wuhan Locks Down Residential Compounds Amid Citywide Test Rollout

Wuhan, where the virus that causes COVID-19 first emerged, is also in the process of implementing a city-wide order to carry out free nucleic acid tests on the entire eleven million population.

Wuhan-based citizen journalist Zhang Zhan said six new cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in the city's Sanmin residential compound, home to some 5,000 people.

"I went there to find out more about the situation, but it has been placed under quarantine," Zhang told RFA on Thursday, adding that local news reports said six new cases had been confirmed, with 180 contacts now in isolation.

"There are police outside on the street now guarding the place, and no vehicles are being allowed through," Zhang said. "I asked a nearby resident how many people were taken away in ambulances, and he told me that 180 people were taken away for isolation."

Sanmin residents stranded outside the compound when lockdown was imposed are not being allowed to return.

A similar lockdown was being imposed at the Sanyanqiao residential compound, also in Wuhan, Zhang said.

"The barriers have been put back and the place is under lockdown," Zhang said. "There is also an online announcement saying that delivery drivers aren't being allowed to enter certain compounds."

"There are signs of a resurgence of the epidemic in Wuhan."

There was no resurgence of Covid-19 in Wuhan. Just a few, mostly asymptomatic cases were found during the city-wide testing.

Shortly after her 'reporting' for Radio Free Asia the notorious grumbler Zhang Zhan was arrested. As this was not the first time she got herself into trouble she did not receive any clemency.

China did manage the news about the Covid-19 pandemic. It suppressed false reports. That is, according to the World Health Organization, what any government should do. A recent WHO Call to Action explains why:

An infodemic is defined as a tsunami of information—some accurate, some not—that spreads alongside an epidemic. If it is not managed accordingly, an infodemic can have direct negative impacts on the health of populations and the public health response by undermining the trust in science and interventions. We are also seeing that infodemics hinder the cohesiveness of societies by increasing existing social inequities, stigma, gender disparity and generational rift.
As outlined in the Resolution on COVID-19 adopted by consensus at the 73rd World Health Assembly and the G20 Health Ministers’ Declaration at the Riyadh Summit, we need to provide populations with reliable and comprehensive information on COVID-19 and take measures to counter misinformation and disinformation.

The response to this infodemic demands the support, development, and application of efficient solutions that equip individuals and their communities with the knowledge and tools to promote accurate health information (upstream) and mitigate the harm that misinformation and disinformation causes (downstream).

Zhang Zhan did her best to feed the infodemic with rumors and false outrage. The Chinese government took appropriate measures against the 'rebellious soul'. It also took the right measures to defeat the pandemic.

But the CIA's congregation of Washington based anti-Chinese 'human rights' organizations disagrees with those measures and it is jealous about China's success.

Thus the 'Mighty Wurlitzer' sprang into action and the 'western' media dutifully followed its lead.

- "Source" -

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