A disputable website, ab-tc.com also known as City News, on Wednesday, February 5 published an article claiming China sought a court’s approval to kill more than 20,000 coronavirus patients.
It said this was to avoid a further spread of the deadly virus.
The article added that China’s Supreme People’s Court was expected to give approval today.
Thousands, including hundreds of Kenyans, have shared the claim on social media while castigating President Xi Jinping’s government for considering such an ill-advised move.
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The Standard Digital Fact Check desk has established that the claim is FALSE.
Verifying the claim
The first red flag on the report is in its first sentence that misspells China as Chhina (sic). Often, spelling mistakes and an over-use of capital letters point to low-quality content that is unlike real news sources who edit for accuracy.
The website does not have identified means authenticating its location from around the world or take feedbacks from readers.
The Twitter page attributed to the website is @abtc. It is bearing the name ‘Joy Fisher’ and has no tweet. The account is following one person and has just eight followers, having joined the platform in June 2009.
We checked if the website had a disclaimer labeling the content as fiction/satire and did not find one. This means it was passing off the report as true.
In any case, the website has been flagged numerous times for fake news, including most recently for spreading misinformation on the coronavirus.
On January 30, 2019, the government of Singapore released a statement refuting a claim published by the website.
“A website called ‘City News’ published an article titled “BREAKING NEWS: Singapore records six more coronavirus case, total of 16 now” (https://ab-tc.com/singapore-coronavirus-cases/) claiming that five Singaporeans have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus without going to China. As of 9pm on 30 Jan 2020, there is no local transmission of the Wuhan virus in Singapore. All confirmed cases in Singapore to date are Chinese nationals who travelled from Wuhan,” the government of Singapore said.
This adds to numerous fact check stories that we found to have debunked tens of false or misleading claims that originated from the website.
The website also lacks genuine news reporting as all its content was under the byline ‘local correspondents’. It does not support any of the claims made with any sort of evidence or links to credible news sites.
The Standard Digital Fact Check also visited the official website of China’s Supreme People’s court and found it had no mention of this particular case.
The court’s last entry is on February 5, 2020, with the headline ‘Court trial goes online in China amid virus outbreak’.
This is proceeded by one on January 31 which announced the courts had closed but its services will continue through the coronavirus outbreak period.
“The legal service center and litigant reception room at the Supreme People's Court and its intellectual property court in Beijing have been temporarily closed since Jan 30 due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. Such closures have also been carried out at the top court's six circuit courts in Shenzhen of Guangdong province, Shenyang of Liaoning province, Nanjing of Jiangsu province, Zhengzhou of Henan province, Chongqing municipality and Xi'an of Shaanxi province,” the court said.
It added that reopening will be decided according to the epidemic situation.
Lastly, AB-TC is the sole source of this claim as no credible news outlets have published reports containing this claim. With the media focus in China at the moment, it is nearly impossible for all the news agencies around the world to miss such a story if indeed it happened.
There are only reports of authorities in the city of Wuhan ordering the round-up all residents who have been infected with the coronavirus so that they be placed in isolation, quarantine or designated hospitals.
There is no mention of a mass killing.
Coronavirus has so far killed 630 people with at least 31,000 people infected.
The Standard Digital Fact Check desk can disprove the claim made by the AB-TC website owing to the reasons stated above and cautions its readers against spreading the falsehood.
This is an initiative of The Standard Group to combat fake news, misinformation and disinformation. If you have something you want us to look into, reach us on [email protected]