Chinese Envoy to the United States Cui Tiankai stressed it is Washington that first started the coronavirus blame game, acknowledging it is "very harmful" for diplomats and journalists to speculate about the origins of COVID-19 as this is a mission for scientists, he told Axios in an interview. The script of it was posted on the website of the Chinese Embassy on 23 March.
Cui addressed multiple rumours and speculation regarding the spread of the virus, including that the virus was allegedly devised in a Chinese lab, suggesting the conspiracy "was first initiated [in the US]".
The ambassador was asked about Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s assumption that the US Army might have intentionally brought the virus to Wuhan in October 2019. He hit back arguing he is no position to interpret Zhao’s words. He also reiterated that there should be no room for rumours, in a reference to an earlier, 9 February, interview, when he refuted Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas’ claims that the coronavirus could have been part of China's biological warfare programme as “absolutely crazy".
‘No Covering Up, but Identifying the Virus ’
Separately, Cui vehemently refuted accusations that the Chinese authorities had attempted to cover up the outbreak and suppressed the spread of vital information in the early stages of the epidemic.
"It's not a process of covering up… It is a process of discovering this new kind of virus, to do a good job in identifying the virus, know more about it, learn more about the routes of transmission and how to respond", Cui said, stressing that after the main bulk of data was gathered, including the sequencing of the coronavirus genome, China shared "everything" with the World Health Organisation and the global community.
He lauded Beijing’s "resolute and determined efforts” to effectively contain the outbreak, stressing the marked downward trenc in the number of cases across China.
US, China at ‘Critical Juncture’
Cui gave a thumbs to the US-China cooperation in the field, suggesting the two biggest economies have found themselves at a ”critical juncture" and that efforts from both sides are needed to build a healthy bilateral relationship, as the two have of late been engaged in a real war of words over the virus.
For instance, Trump has a few times referred to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus", at some point stressing he merely meant that it originated on Chinese soil. The first such comment came shortly after the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson’s remarks about the US military conspiracy.
According to China's foreign ministry, the country has offered assistance to 82 countries as well as the WHO and the African Union, namely in the provision of test kits, masks, etc. China's Hubei Province, the former hotbed of the outbreak, now overtaken by Italy, has reported no new locally-originated cases for the past five days. About 40 new infections have been registered of late, but all of those came from abroad.
China is also fully engaged in working on a coronavirus vaccine, with a whole slew of projects having already approximated clinical testing and even human trial.
The US is currently the third worst affected country in the world (over 34,700 cases,) while the death toll is among the lowest - 452.
President Donald Trump said on Sunday he had approved New York and Washington's requests to declare a major disaster in the two states amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to President Trump, the US federal government will pay for the deployment of national guard units in the states of New York, California, and Washington to help fight the coronavirus.
New York remains the hotbed of the contagious viral disease in the US, with the highest number of cases registered there - a total of 15,168, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and at least 114 people have died so far.