Chinese envoy takes veiled swipe at Trump for politicising coronavirus

WASHINGTON: China’s ambassador to the United States took a thinly veiled swipe at President Donald Trump on Tuesday (Apr 21) by criticising politicians bent on making “groundless accusations” that distract from scientific information on the deadly coronavirus.

Speaking at a webcast Bloomberg event, Cui Tiankai also defended the handling of the disease by China, which has drawn fire from Trump and others for allegedly failing to alert the world to risks of the virus in a timely and transparent fashion.

“What worries me is indeed lack of transparency, not in terms of science, not in terms of medical treatment, but in terms of some of the political developments, especially here in the United States,” Cui said.

“So little attention is paid to the views of the scientists as some politicians are so pre-occupied in their efforts for stigmatisation, for groundless accusations,” he added, accusing the media of also spreading speculation and rumor.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tensions are simmering between Washington and Beijing over the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China last year and has infected millions and upended life worldwide. Almost a third of coronavirus cases, a total of 2.5 million people globally, have been in the United States.

Last month, the US State Department summoned Cui to protest comments by Beijing suggesting the US military might have brought the coronavirus to China, ratcheting up tensions between the global powers.

Meanwhile, Trump has said his government is trying to determine whether the coronavirus emanated from a lab in Wuhan, following reports the virus may have been artificially synthesized at a China state-backed laboratory or perhaps escaped from such a facility.

READ: Trump warns China could face ‘consequences’ over COVID-19 pandemic

As far back as February, the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed the allegations.

Trump and other officials have also expressed deep skepticism of China’s officially declared death toll from the virus and halted funding to the World Health Organization for allegedly promoting China’s “disinformation” about the virus, which he blamed for fuelling a wider outbreak than otherwise would have occurred.

READ: Trump halts World Health Organization funding over handling of COVID-19

But Cui said China had been open, pointing to calls between the Chinese government and both Washington and the WHO in early January, as well as daily press briefings on the virus.

“We are doing our best to have transparency. We are discovering, we are learning. At the same time, we are sharing,” he said.

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