Thanks.
June 14, 2024 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Reuters: Pentagon ran secret anti-vax campaign to undermine China during pandemic 'The U.S. military launched a clandestine program [that started under former President Donald Trump and continued months into Joe Biden’s presidency] amid the COVID crisis to discredit China’s Sinovac inoculation – payback for Beijing’s efforts to blame Washington for the pandemic. One target: the Filipino public. Health experts say the gambit was indefensible and put innocent lives at risk.' (ungated)
posted by cendawanita (65 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
As Atrios just said, "This will be one of those things the press will refer to as a "conspiracy theory" in a few years."
posted by Pedantzilla at 11:03 AM on June 14 [16 favorites]


Health experts say it was indefensible? Everyone with a functioning soul should be saying that.

My only question: does this fall into an existing type of crime against humanity or is our dread empire rapidly innovating in the population-level-horrors space?
posted by Slackermagee at 11:09 AM on June 14 [33 favorites]


JFC
posted by Reverend John at 11:09 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


More like penta-gonna-fuck-it-all-up.
posted by mattgriffin at 11:14 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


Sounds like this is Mark Esper working toward Das Fuhrer and the hollowing of the State Department paying dividends, perhaps a minor preview of things to come.
posted by credulous at 11:16 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


I'm politically disposed to assume this sort of thing is going on all the time but every confirmation of it is still shocking.
posted by jy4m at 11:19 AM on June 14 [23 favorites]


The GOP is certainly a tidy collection of the nation’s shittiest people.
posted by torokunai at 11:23 AM on June 14 [26 favorites]


US exploitation of vaccine initiatives for short-sighted military objectives is not new or confined to the GOP, unfortunately.
Previously on Metafilter.
Lancet: Polio Eradication: The CIA and their Unintended Victims
posted by Headfullofair at 11:23 AM on June 14 [31 favorites]


some real "are we the baddies" type shit
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:29 AM on June 14 [24 favorites]


From the article, "The U.S. military is prohibited from targeting Americans with propaganda"

hahahahahahahahahahahahahhaha. Oh hahahahahha. Fuck me. Sure it is.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:29 AM on June 14 [67 favorites]


Stupidest Timeline
posted by mrjohnmuller at 11:31 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


Well, speaking of conspiracy theories, the reactions in Europe to the news of a Russian vaccine were inexplicably unenthusiastic for such a time of fear and desperation too, I seem to remember. Maybe someone should try to find out how that came about.
posted by Ashenmote at 11:38 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


To be Scrupulously Fair, the Biden admin seems to have shut this down within a few months of taking office, which is basically a lightspeed response for the military bureaucracy. You and I might think that all of the officers in charge should be cashiered, and that their superiors who signed off on the effort should be reduced in grade in a career-ending fashion. But as US crimes against humanity go this is not very big potatoes, so I'm not real surprised that didn't happen.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 11:39 AM on June 14 [20 favorites]


I don't think you need to drag the Biden administration into this. From TFA:

The military program started under former President Donald Trump and continued months into Joe Biden’s presidency, Reuters found – even after alarmed social media executives warned the new administration that the Pentagon had been trafficking in COVID misinformation. The Biden White House issued an edict in spring 2021 banning the anti-vax effort, which also disparaged vaccines produced by other rivals, and the Pentagon initiated an internal review, Reuters found.

Biden was inaugurated in January 2021 so this was pretty quick, especially as the exact date they were notified about this wasn't provided in the article.

Nonetheless, the anti-vax campaign continued into 2021 as Biden took office. Angered that military officials had ignored their warning, Facebook officials arranged a Zoom meeting with Biden’s new National Security Council shortly after the inauguration, Reuters learned. The discussion quickly became tense.
“It was terrible,” said a senior administration official describing the reaction after learning of the campaign’s pig-related posts. “I was shocked. The administration was pro-vaccine and our concern was this could affect vaccine hesitancy, especially in developing countries.”
By spring 2021, the National Security Council ordered the military to stop all anti-vaccine messaging. “We were told we needed to be pro-vaccine, pro all vaccines,” said a former senior military officer who helped oversee the program. Even so, Reuters found some anti-vax posts that continued through April and other deceptive COVID-related messaging that extended into that summer. Reuters could not determine why the campaign didn’t end immediately with the NSC’s order. In response to questions from Reuters, the NSC declined to comment.


Not sure what more the Biden administration could reasonably do here. The blame for this falls squarely on the Trump administration and Pentagon.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:43 AM on June 14 [40 favorites]


And it's not as though the Trump administration wasn't also using the non-military parts of the government to promote tons of misinformation inside the US about everything else related covid from masks to horse medicine.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:55 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


well, i guess the usual bullshit wasn't enough - so they went for elephant shit
posted by pyramid termite at 12:18 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


My pet conspiracy theory of the day:

a) This is true. (It also accounts for EU skepticism about the Russian Sputnik vaccine—if not the Pentagon, then some disinfo op inside the UK or NATO targeting public opinion.)

b) Blowback: both China and Russia are totally capable of running rings around the Pentagon when it comes to this sort of activity, as witness the existence of the Internet Research Agency (aka the "Trolls from Olgino"), who were known to be spreading anti-vaxxer propaganda in the west circa 2014-2017, long before COVID19.

The probability that Yevgeny Prigozhin's pet troll farm wasn't spraying anti-COVID19 vaccination propaganda everywhere in 2020-22 is vanishingly low.

With this kind of sub rosa propaganda war, it's inevitable that what goes around comes around: as a species we seem to be too self-destructively stupid to survive, for viruses don't respect boundaries——not cell membranes, never mind national borders.
posted by cstross at 12:32 PM on June 14 [14 favorites]


Retaliate for Chinese propaganda with American propaganda: that's evil.
Retailate against China sharing vaccines by encouraging Filipinos to die: that's very evil. Like, they could have retaliated by also sharing vaccines. A non-evil option was right there!
posted by polecat at 12:48 PM on June 14 [21 favorites]


That would have required us to force the pharma companies that we gave billions of dollars to develop the vaccines to sell them at reduced cost, and then we'd be no better than the damn Red Chinese!
posted by jy4m at 1:03 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


This was a stupid thing to do, but it was part of fighting a larger information war with China, which was also doing the same thing. That doesn't make it right, of course, but it is an important detail and the post's pull-quote could have used a bit more context in that regard.

Some larger problems: Social media network companies like Facebook and Twitter are still unregulated and so will remain useful vectors for these kinds of attacks. Worse, these attacks make future pandemics harder to fight by poisoning the well of trust in public health systems, also politicizing conflicts and making public health cooperation and coordination across countries more difficult.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:08 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


As Atrios just said, "This will be one of those things the press will refer to as a "conspiracy theory" in a few years."

What?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 1:22 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Just evil, evil behavior. These people think any number of foreign deaths are acceptable in pursuit of some vague strategic objectives.
posted by ssg at 1:36 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


They Live was a documentary
posted by torokunai at 1:49 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


I'll cite this anytime anyone says derides something as conspiracy theory, even when I'm the one doing the deriding. lol

There were 67k covid deaths in the Philippines, but which most occured during this program's effects. American has done many worse things of course, but many unique characteristics here.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:42 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


From the article, "The U.S. military is prohibited from targeting Americans with propaganda"


Huh? What's that? I'm at a football game and I can't hear you over the fighter jet flyover!
posted by Reyturner at 3:03 PM on June 14 [25 favorites]


Run a public program to shut these organizations down, we really do not need these people and the evil work they do.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:07 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


It's not targeted when they are just drowning everyone in propaganda, so I'm afraid they are in compliance with the rule.
posted by Ashenmote at 3:23 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


This is not what people mean by the term "conspiracy theory" and I think that's a derail from the substance here. This is clear, documented malfeasance by the US government, which happens commonly enough but must be identified and denounced when it does.

So: these people fucked over innocent civilians, they trashed US credibility, they attacked public health during a global pandemic. Fuck them. Let's work to change our government so it can't happen again. Keeping the Trump admin fuckers that did this away from the levers of power is necessary, but not sufficient, to that end.
posted by biogeo at 3:53 PM on June 14 [13 favorites]


Not sure what more the Biden administration could reasonably do here.

Also recall the Biden administration was not afforded any assistance with the transition by Team Trump because they were busy trying to stage a coup.
posted by dry white toast at 4:49 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


I think the point maybe(?) is that this will be swept under the rug by the mainstream half dissociative consensus and when/if you bring it up in a public setting most will look at you with bewilderment/confusion and the status quo folks will kinda let you twist in the wind in embarrassment. Kinda like when folks mention the CIA funneling cocaine into US cities to fund the contras or whatever and it’s kinda seen as faintly embarrassing/confusing and everyone just sorta turns a blind eye and your left looking like a crank.
posted by flamk at 5:44 PM on June 14 [17 favorites]


The Pentagon’s anti-vax propaganda came in response to China’s own efforts to spread false information about the origins of COVID. The virus first emerged in China in late 2019. But in March 2020, Chinese government officials claimed without evidence that the virus may have been first brought to China by an American service member who participated in an international military sports competition in Wuhan the previous year. Chinese officials also suggested that the virus may have originated in a U.S. Army research facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland. There’s no evidence for that assertion.
Even stories that are supposed to be about exposing malfeasance advance the American perspective by adopting the "We were just defending ourselves!" framing. It was Tom Cotton, a sitting US Senator, who first suggested in February 2020 - without evidence - that COVID was a Chinese bioweapon! If you are trying to provide context, leaving this out is journalistic malpractice.

More buried in the lede:
In 2019, Trump authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to launch a clandestine campaign on Chinese social media aimed at turning public opinion in China against its government, Reuters reported in March. As part of that effort, a small group of operatives used bogus online identities to spread disparaging narratives about Xi Jinping’s government.
...
But in 2019, before COVID surfaced in full force, then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed a secret order that later paved the way for the launch of the U.S. military propaganda campaign. The order elevated the Pentagon’s competition with China and Russia to the priority of active combat, enabling commanders to sidestep the State Department when conducting psyops against those adversaries. The Pentagon spending bill passed by Congress that year also explicitly authorized the military to conduct clandestine influence operations against other countries, even “outside of areas of active hostilities.”
...
By 2010, the military began using social media tools, leveraging phony accounts to spread messages of sympathetic local voices – themselves often secretly paid by the United States government. As time passed, a growing web of military and intelligence contractors built online news websites to pump U.S.-approved narratives into foreign countries. Today, the military employs a sprawling ecosystem of social media influencers, front groups and covertly placed digital advertisements to influence overseas audiences, according to current and former military officials.
All of this is prior to COVID. This influence campaign shouldn't be understood as an exception, but just one of many that have been ongoing for a long time. There was a story or two a while ago about Twitter cooperating with this kind of stuff and letting CENTCOM know when they were being too obvious.
From the article, "The U.S. military is prohibited from targeting Americans with propaganda"

hahahahahahahahahahahahahhaha. Oh hahahahahha. Fuck me. Sure it is.
This is probably technically true but also inconsequential. The US can directly fund outlets like Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Asia, etc as long as they don't target Americans. In 2012 the Smith–Mundt Modernization Act was passed, which made domestically disseminating their stuff legal. Of course, whatever they report on gets picked up and repeated so the targeting effectively makes little difference (random trivia: the origin of "blowback" as an intelligence term of art was when the US would put out black propaganda - aka lies - then end up receiving those rumors back through other channels as legitimate intelligence). Similarly, many countries have laws about domestic surveillance by intelligence agencies; it's an open secret that they workaround this by surveilling each other instead (Five Eyes is probably the most prominent example). Just a few years ago Denmark had a big scandal about their intelligence agency helping the NSA spy on European allies, but buried in the details was that they were also helping the NSA spy on the US government itself. My personal rule of thumb is if you give an institution a mission then give them rules that get in the way, they'll find ways to creatively interpret the rules to get around it.

Anyways, the CIA is probably chuckling at the Pentagon amateurs who were incompetent enough to get caught.
posted by ndr at 5:56 PM on June 14 [7 favorites]


You and I might think that all of the officers in charge should be cashiered, and that their superiors who signed off on the effort should be reduced in grade in a career-ending fashion.

I think they should be prosecuted for murder.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 6:02 PM on June 14 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I mean, this is basically an act of war against the Phillipines, which to my knowledge is not our adversary. I'm not sure how effective it really was, but if a person stands on the street looking up at a person standing on a ledge a hundred feet off the ground and yells "jump," the guy yelling certainly isn't trying to make matters any better. If the person jumps, it's maybe not the yelling guy's fault, but it's not...not his fault, either?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:20 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


I think the point maybe(?) is that this will be swept under the rug by the mainstream half dissociative consensus and when/if you bring it up in a public setting most will look at you with bewilderment/confusion and the status quo folks will kinda let you twist in the wind in embarrassment.

yeah this is exactly it. like take for example the tuskegee "experiment". this horrible project lasted decades and was brought to light in the early 70s. it was, and is, a matter of public record. and yet the pew research institute included it in a survey of "conspiracy theories", amongst many other actual, real things that have happened and are happening to Black people.

so it's not outside the realm of possibilities that sooner or later, this news will also be lumped in with "conspiracy theories". unless by some miracle there is a greater understanding of the difference between a conspiracy theory and an actual, real conspiracy
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:33 PM on June 14 [11 favorites]


Anyways, the CIA is probably chuckling at the Pentagon amateurs who were incompetent enough to get caught

Yeah we only find out after mission is accomplished (the referred to mission to hunt for bin Laden) nevermind the 'collateral damage': How the CIA Is Hurting the Fight Against Polio - because they're not Americans.
posted by cendawanita at 7:27 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


Confirmation

"The Philippines disinformation campaign marks an unusual use of military power in a country that has often been a U.S. ally in a strategically crucial region and at a time of great public health risks. Lisa Lawrence, a Defense Department spokeswoman, did not deny Reuters' reporting on the operation, which was done under the administration of former President Donald Trump and continued for some time under the Biden administration."
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:33 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


I think they should be prosecuted for murder.

to my mind this sort of thing should be treated as a crime against humanity. it's statistical murder, and the penalties should be commensurate.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:09 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


at least the CIA's vaccine thing in Pakistan wasn't deliberately inducing vaccine hesitancy. It was a very, very bad idea but they weren't trying to get anyone killed (other than bin Laden)
posted by BungaDunga at 9:13 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


What the fuck oh my God
posted by latkes at 9:30 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


Also this bit... yikes:
The senior Defense Department official said that those complaints led to an internal review in late 2021, which uncovered the anti-vaccine operation. The probe also turned up other social and political messaging that was “many, many leagues away” from any acceptable military objective. The official would not elaborate.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:40 PM on June 14 [17 favorites]


> to my mind this sort of thing should be treated as a crime against humanity

Let's reflect that the US does not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The tone varies a little from administration to administration. The current US administration welcomes ICC decisions that are aligned with US strategic interests and expresses outrage over ICC decisions that go against US strategic interests.

This latest operation seems unsurprising given everything else that the US has gotten up to over the past 80 years, during and after the cold war. The US political administration changes every few years, but this kind of behaviour persists. The US pursues its own strategic advantage, and for fights against strong rivals that cannot simply be crushed, it is less risky to the US if this conflict between superpowers plays out indirectly inside buffer countries. Superpowers pursuing their own advantage have a habit of crushing individuals.

That said, in contrast to the other superpowers on offer, the US has a largely free press that is sometimes able to drive some forms of accountability. That's worth celebrating and defending. This is some good journalism bringing this mess to light.
posted by are-coral-made at 10:09 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


Well it didn't go far enough to counter the Chinese propaganda - frustratingly, I know so many relatives and direct family who went out of their way to avoid the Pfizer vaccine and were willing to go about unvaccinated until they could find a Chinese vaccine, even though studies showed that Pfizer was by far the more effective vaccine.

They would literally book a vaccine appointment, show up on the day, find out which vaccine it was, then decline and leave once they found out it was the "bad Western one".
posted by xdvesper at 3:08 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


'If the government ever so much as breathes the word "disinformation" again, every journalist in the room had better turn their backs on the podium. They're stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers (at a minimum!) to poison the internet.' - Snowden

I'll refine my above statement: There were 67k covid deaths in the Philippines, of which 66k occurd under the influence of this. I suppose many would've occured anyways, and freedom of speech should protect regular people, but when a government does this for economic benefit, then they incur considerably liability.

Also, anti-vaxers everywhere could not wish for more perfect evidence: Argue the Pentagon would not waste resources, and risk the political defeat, on fighting Chinese vaccine deplomacy, then conclude the Pentagon had other reasons for pushing American vaccines. In reality, the Pentagon is that banally evil, but it's quite good story. lol
posted by jeffburdges at 5:02 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


The US can directly fund outlets like Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Asia, etc as long as they don't target Americans.

This is kind of interesting in the broader political context where the MAGA Republicans went after VOA executives for being too liberal.
posted by srboisvert at 5:29 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Disappointed to not see much reporting on this awful story today. Google News show it was picked up by Al Jazeera, Forbes, Daily Mail, and a bunch of low quality online reprint sites. But nothing in the bigger places I read daily like the Washington Post, NY Times, or Economist. It might be that they didn't think they could add anything to the Reuters reporting and didn't want to just run their article. Or maybe none of their editors considered this important enough to report on.

Someone already linked the one substantial follow-up I could find, Pentagon Stands by Secret Anti-Vaccination Disinformation Campaign in Philippines After Reuters Report
Lisa Lawrence, a Defense Department spokeswoman, did not deny Reuters' reporting on the operation, which was done under the administration of former President Donald Trump and continued for some time under the Biden administration.

The Pentagon "conducts a wide range of operations, including operations in the information environment (OIE), to counter adversary malign influence" and "this process is deliberate, methodical, and comprehensive," Lawrence said in a statement. "The DoD uses a variety of platforms, including social media, to counter those malign influence attacks."
(Small caveat: I think military.com is reputable enough to not just make shit up but I could not verify this quote anywhere else.)

The Al Jazeera article has original reporting of reactions to the Reuters story but they aren't particularly interesting.
In an email, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has long maintained the US government manipulates social media and spreads misinformation.

A spokesperson for the Philippines Department of Health said the “findings by Reuters deserve to be investigated and heard by the appropriate authorities of the involved countries”.
The Daily Mail article also adds a lot of contextual detail including screenshots of tweets. But that outlet is so unreliable I didn't read it closely. Probably most of what it adds is true but who knows.

While looking for articles I found some interesting context from March 2021, A black market for illegal coronavirus vaccines is thriving in the Philippines. I won't try to summarize but it contains some mentions of concern about Sinovac's efficacy.
posted by Nelson at 6:19 AM on June 15 [9 favorites]


Has anyone found news from the Philippines about this?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:54 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Outside reddit, I don't immediately see any - so I googled the anglophone ones I do know of: Manila Times, Philstar, and The Rappler (Maria Ressa's outfit) - only the last one carried it and only as a straight wire story with no additional reporting.

From my understanding it's very much due to the toxic dump of the various disinfo campaigns + domestic politics - and with China being seen as a genuine military risk to Filipino sovereignty, to be pro-China the way even Singaporean leaders (and to a lesser extent, Thai, Indo, & Malaysian ones) would say would be something the country's elite and literati and anglophone middle class would see as an immediate flaw. So thanks to the way the disease itself is handled, lines have been drawn for a while.

Let me phrase it another way: this story managed to make Duterte look like a decent leader.
posted by cendawanita at 8:25 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I’m disgusted and horrified.
posted by rednikki at 9:05 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


It's not targeted when they are just drowning everyone in propaganda, so I'm afraid they are in compliance with the rule.

Syndrome:
And when everyone’s targeted… no one will be.


See also: targeted killing
posted by 1024 at 9:42 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


The senior Defense Department official said that those complaints led to an internal review in late 2021, which uncovered the anti-vaccine operation. The probe also turned up other social and political messaging that was “many, many leagues away” from any acceptable military objective. The official would not elaborate.
Considering that this whole travesty — despite the article’s attempts to make it sound like a somewhat logical plan — seems like yet another case of MAGA chucklefucks smearing shit on the walls and calling it art, I have some pretty definite ideas about what this “social and political messaging” looked like.
posted by bjrubble at 1:12 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


This was a stupid thing to do, but it was part of fighting a larger information war with China, which was also doing the same thing. That doesn't make it right, of course, but it is an important detail and the post's pull-quote could have used a bit more context in that regard.

It would only be important if it was somehow mitigating which it doesn't seem to be. An opponent flooding the public health zone with bulshit isn't countered by doing the same. It's countered by providing correct information.
posted by Mitheral at 4:48 AM on June 16 [12 favorites]


Sinovac hits back over reported US campaign to discredit China’s Covid-19 vaccine. By SCMP, a major English language Hong Kong newspaper. Contains many critical quotes from Chinese health and science experts. Also a quote from Edward Snowden.

Stigmatizing vaccines causes serious consequences, Sinovac said after US secret anti-vax campaign against China revealed. That's a Chinese English language paper characterized as being nationalist. Contains an official response from the Sinovac company.

Report on Pentagon 'secret anti-vax campaign' targeting PH 'deserves to be investigated': DOH, an English language Filipino media outlet. Short article containing the one quote from the Department of Heath.

That's all I could find today in English. I'm not expert in Asian media, it's possible I missed things not targeted at American readers. Still nothing new in the major US English papers I read.
posted by Nelson at 6:26 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


One of the things I miss from twitter is that when a story like this came out you would sometimes get gossip from other journalists on whether the journalists involved generally did solid work. I'm inclined to trust Reuters and I don't see any red flags in the article. It is unfortunate that none of the people with direct knowledge of the program would go on record to confirm it, but that's not surprising.

This paragraph makes me suspect that Reuters has a source inside twitter as well:
The Pentagon campaign sought to intensify fears about injecting a pig derivative. As part of an internal investigation at X, the social media company used IP addresses and browser data to identify more than 150 phony accounts that were operated from Tampa by U.S. Central Command and its contractors, according to an internal X document reviewed by Reuters.
posted by mscibing at 7:16 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


I'm afraid of Americans.
posted by neonamber at 9:24 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


> American has done many worse things of course, but many unique characteristics here.

> Yeah, I mean, this is basically an act of war against the Phillipines, which to my knowledge is not our adversary.

fwiw, john sayles' amigo, on the Philippine-American War (1899-1902):[1] Atrocities
posted by kliuless at 9:56 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


Per Australian journalist Erin Cook's newsletter on SEA politics and culture (her beat):
A jaw-dropping report from Reuters over the weekend has revealed a Pentagon campaign to spread anti-Sinovac, the China-made COVID vaccine, across Filipino social media from mid-2020 until mid-2021. The report is staggering and ought to be read in full. As you’d expect, the reaction has been outrage and hurt online. But come Sunday evening Canberra time, I still haven’t heard a word from Malacanang. With the US and the Philippines working so closely on defence and security in recent years, this surely must smart.
posted by cendawanita at 10:07 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


And random anecdata from a Thai account: This reminds me of during the pandemic when many Thai celebrities and organizations led a mass boycott against China's Sinovac vaccine, with the media spreading rumors and smearing it. Their demand was to import Moderna and Pfizer instead of Sinovac.

Random anecdata from my former in-laws' as well as friends' parents seem to corroborate (though not my mother, who somehow reasoned only Nazis don't vaccinate so she should vaccinate - I'm not going to disagree, I have my eye on the prize), if we're talking about anecdotes.

And I'm scouring my chat logs, to throw up anything else, and this (Malaysian woman rejects Chinese Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, worried she might not be allowed to enter Europe if she takes it) reminded me of how the US also made a big deal of not allowing those vaxxed only with Sinovac to enter.

Scouring my logs threw up a funny self-made deprogramming incident though:
Friend's dad been calling everyone to wish them Happy Eid. When he spoke to mum he's like oh i also now trust sinovac, I will register afterwards. Why?
"cos it's packaged here!"

posted by cendawanita at 10:18 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


It'll be interesting in 15-20 years when real famines create multiple pandemics becuse then the US would be insisting Pfizer's latest covers variants X,Y,Z when in fact it only covers X, and you need the Russian for Y and the Chinese for Z, which the US does not recognize.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:39 PM on June 16


1440, a news compilation service, has picked up the Reuters story.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:40 AM on June 17


It'll be interesting in 15-20 years when real famines create multiple pandemics becuse then the US would be insisting Pfizer's latest covers variants X,Y,Z when in fact it only covers X, and you need the Russian for Y and the Chinese for Z, which the US does not recognize.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:39 AM on June 17


That's an interesting speculative non-sequitur. Not sure its helpful in addressing the actual scandal here.
posted by Reverend John at 7:58 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


There's been more reporting on this in English language media in Asia. Taiwanese and Filipino news in particular.

One theme is "China is angry". See SCMP's report on that, or Reuters. There's also a new Global Times op/ed that I assume is closely aligned with the Chinese government's response. From the Reuters article, writing about the Chinese ambassador to Manila's comments:
"People around the world are indignant about the U.S. military's actions which lay bare the hypocrisy, malign intention and double standards of the United States," an embassy spokesperson said in a statement.

"While talking about respecting human rights, the United States does just the opposite regarding the fundamental human rights of life and health of the Filipino people."
The other theme is a Filipino politician in the government calling for an investigation. Rappler has the longest story, also Manila Times (paywall bypass on MSN).
On Sunday, June 16, ACT Teachers Representative France Castro urged the House of Representatives to conduct an investigation into the report.

“It is imperative that we ascertain the extent of the damage caused by this secret campaign and hold those responsible accountable,” Castro said.

“The Philippines was one of the areas targeted by this operation, and therefore, it is our duty to safeguard our nation’s sovereignty and protect our people’s health,” she added.
Still very little in US media other than Reuters itself breaking the story. Nothing in NYTimes or LATimes or WashPo. Also nothing in The Economist which surprises me. Maybe they'll run something Thursday as one of their short paragraph summaries of world events.
posted by Nelson at 7:30 AM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Ain't clear what "address the scandal" means there, Reverend John. Ihere are zero consequences for Pentagon officials here, beyond repremands from Biden et al. And negligable chance the US pays reparations, even though this would related Russian and Chinese propoganda nicely. Instead, involved officails shall be rewarded later for loyalty eventually.

I suppose "address the scandal" could only really mean: Maximize awareness & political damage, so nations, journalists, etc trust the US less in future. We should recognize this characterizes future Pentagon behavior in particiular.

Anyways, I cited only confirmed deaths above, but the Economist (2022) published much higher estimated deaths, some of which looks off, but we've correspondingly larger culpability cases: "the US military disinformation campaign [was] responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 Filipinos in 2021 alone."
posted by jeffburdges at 10:10 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]




I found out today that there used to be a Lyme Vaccine but some combination of late stage capitalism and vaccine hesitancy made it unprofitable and it was withdrawn from the market. This is what the US's reckless behaviour leads to.
posted by Mitheral at 6:29 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]


NYTimes op/ed America’s Virulent Anti-Vaccine Lies
posted by Nelson at 1:09 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]


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