China's four scathing words to US over Covid 'mess'

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·4-min read

China continues to boldly push back against criticism of its influence over the Covid-19 origins investigation, slamming the US's response to the pandemic with four damning words.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Tuesday evening was pressed on comments made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken where he suggested the investigation in Wuhan lacked transparency while vital data and access was withheld from Western experts.

An infuriated Mr Zhao once again took aim at the US, highlighting its daunting, world-high death toll of more than 560,000 – a figure he noted was 110 times that of China's – while summarising Washington's Covid response in four words.

"Its moves can be summarised as scapegoating, blame-shifting, stigmatisation and politicisation," he told reporters.

"It is immoral and irresponsible that some in the US always make an issue out of China whenever the topic of Covid-19 is brought up. China will never accept that."

Zhao Lijian wearing a red tie and suit jacket at the Foreign Ministry's press conference.
China's Zhao Lijian did not hold back when responding to US criticism. Source: FMPRC

He said the US's response to the pandemic had been "nothing short of a mess and total failure".

"I wonder where certain US politicians got the confidence to brazenly brag about US-style human rights and criticise China’s epidemic response?"

In contrast, Mr Zhao said the four key words for China's response to the pandemic were "openness, transparency, science and responsibility".

China has stressed it has allowed science to dictate the mission, which they claim is being politicised by the US and other Western nations.

It also disputes claims it did not provide the relevant data to experts, however chief Chinese expert Liang Wannian said case data could not be taken outside of China due to privacy reasons.

Under former president Donald Trump, the US repeatedly scolded China over claims it failed to adequately contain the virus in its infancy, while Mr Trump regularly referred to Covid-19 as the "China virus" – a move criticised for inciting racial hatred against Chinese-Americans and other Asian nationals.

The US has continued its robust approach with China under President Joe Biden, with Mr Blinken involved in a fiery back-and-forth with Chinese diplomats at the first meeting between the two sides last month.

On Thursday, Chinese state media accused the Australian government of also inciting hatred towards Chinese and Asian people.

Australia was among a list of 14 nations who released a joint statement expressing their concern over the Wuhan mission's final report. A Global Times editorial said such a stance encouraged racism towards Chinese people overseas.

A crowded boardwalk in Los Angeles filled with people wearing face masks.
China has slammed the US response to coronavirus. Source: Getty Images

China points finger at US again over Covid origins

Mr Zhao once again pushed the theory the virus originated in the US, a theory Beijing has repeatedly peddled in a bid to deflect blame over Covid-19.

"When will the US invite WHO experts to do origin-tracing investigations in the US? It's time for the US to give an answer," he said.

Experts from both sides of the World Health Organisation-led mission have said investigations into the virus's origins need to venture further afield than Wuhan and even China.

However there is scepticism the virus originated from the West with research suggesting the virus may have been detected in Europe in late 2019 – another claim pushed by Beijing – counteracted by the mission's lead expert Peter Ben Embarek's remarks it was "perfectly possible" the virus was circulating in Wuhan months before the first official cases were recorded, meaning the virus could have unknowingly travelled abroad before its detection.

China has faced allegations it was slow to raise the alarm on the emergence of Covid-19 as well as being accused of trying to downplay its severity. 

While lambasted by the US for shielding China from blame, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered a surprise attack on China at the end of March, voicing concerns China withheld vital Covid-19 data from Western experts.

And he sensationally disputed remarks from both Chinese and Western experts from the mission to Wuhan who dismissed the likelihood the virus had leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

He called on the theory to be investigated further, despite the highly-anticipated delayed joint report from the mission stating it was "highly unlikely".

“I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough,” he said.

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