The claim: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Wuhan, China, in November
A since-deleted tweet posted April 19 on a conspiracy-promoting Facebook account claimed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Wuhan, China, in November, around the time researchers say the coronavirus probably originated.
The tweet accused Pelosi of being “traitorous” and being involved in the release of the virus. “THE ENEMY FROM WITHIN!” the tweet said, ending in a series of hashtags, including “#StayAtHome” and “#ThesePeopleAreStupid.” It included a photo of Pelosi shaking hands with a Chinese official, with Chinese characters in the lower left corner like a TV station identifier.
The screenshot of the tweet that was posted to Facebook has been shared more than 1,200 times and copies the language used in the tweet. Because the tweet was deleted, it’s unclear how far it spread on that platform.
Was Pelosi in China at all?
The photo attached to the tweet and included in the Facebook post shows Pelosi visiting with officials in China in November 2015.
The photo was posted on a Chinese Embassy webpage and highlights Pelosi meeting with Zhang Dejiang, who was the leader of China’s equivalent to a legislative branch. It is timestamped November 2015, which coincides with independent news reports of Pelosi taking a delegation to meet with Chinese leaders.
The visit is detailed on the website of the speaker of the U.S. House.
Zhang retired from his post as chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in March 2018. The clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, which logs foreign travel reports from members of Congress, has no record of Pelosi visiting China on or around November 2019.
Despite tweets busting the conspiracy in the replies, and the original tweet being deleted, a screenshot found its way to a Facebook account with about 18,000 followers that traffics in a right-wing conspiracy theory that a Democratic cabal of pedophiles is trying to control the country and that President Donald Trump is trying to stop it.. The people behind the Twitter account and the Facebook account did not respond to requests for comment. Pelosi’s office also did not respond to a request for comment.
Our ruling: False
The claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited China in November is FALSE. The photo used in the claim features a retired politician and ties back to a visit Pelosi made to China four years prior. There are no congressional records, media reports or other evidence supporting the claim that the House speaker visited China any time close to when the novel coronavirus appeared in that country.
Our fact-check sources:
Nick Coltrain is a politics and data reporter for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 515-284-8361.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Did Nancy Pelosi visit Wuhan, China, in November?