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China and the largest newspaper in Germany have been in a war of words, according to reports, over the role of President Xi Jinping in the coronavirus pandemic.
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“You [Xi], your government and your scientists had to know long ago that coronavirus is highly infectious, but you left the world in the dark about it. Your top experts didn’t respond when Western researchers asked to know what was going on in Wuhan. You were too proud and too nationalistic to tell the truth, which you felt was a national disgrace,” wrote Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of Germany’s largest paper, Bild, which had questioned if China “should pay for the massive economic damage the coronavirus is inflicting worldwide.”
Reichelt added: “You rule by surveillance. You wouldn’t be president without surveillance. You monitor everything, every citizen, but you refuse to monitor the diseased wet markets in your country. You shut down every newspaper and website that is critical of your rule, but not the stalls where bat soup is sold. You are not only monitoring your people, you are endangering them – and with them, the rest of the world.”
China shot back with an open letter to Reichelt, denying the allegations and denigrating the paper’s “nationalism, prejudice, and hostility against China.”
The letter from China’s embassy said: “I followed your reporting on the corona pandemic in general and China’s alleged guilt in particular today. Apart from the fact that we consider it a pretty bad style to blame a country for a pandemic that is affecting the whole world and then to present an explicit account of alleged Chinese debts to Germany, the article ignores some essential facts.”
It added: “We note that many countries now struggling with COVID-19 have had time to prepare for the cross-border spread of the pathogen after China reported its outbreak under IHR [World Health Organization] guidelines.”
Germany’s leadership called on Monday for China to be transparent.
“I believe the more transparent China is about the origin story of the virus, the better it is for everyone in the world in order to learn from it,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, according to a report by Channel News Asia.
China, where the pandemic began, has lifted travel and other restrictions, but customer traffic has been slow to return.
Xi warned the public on Jan. 20; officials privately established on Jan. 14 the virus had evolved into a pandemic, the Associated Press reported.
Fox News has reported that sources are saying there’s increasing confidence that the coronavirus pandemic began in a Wuhan, China, laboratory as part of the Communist country’s efforts to compete with the United States.
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The United States has been the hardest-hit COVID-19 country in the world.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 41,000 Americans have died and 749,666 have tested positive for the virus, according to a Jonhs Hopkins University count.