US coronavirus: Chinese ambassador hits back at Trump over accusations | World | News

The ambassador accused senior US politicians on Tuesday of ignoring scientific knowledge to pursue “groundless accusations”. “So little attention is paid to the views of the scientists,” Ambassador Cui Tiankai, appearing on a webcast event organised by Bloomberg News, said of the US.

“And some politicians are so preoccupied in their efforts for stigmatisation, for groundless accusations.”

Last week, the US President claimed the coronavirus may have originated from – or even been bioengineered at – a virology lab near Wuhan, the major Chinese city were the outbreak was first identified.

Trump added that his administration was conducting an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently asked Beijing to allow independent experts investigate the lab on-site.

Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai

Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai, hits back at Trump over ‘groundless’ coronavirus accusations (Image: Getty)

The move comes despite the measurement by Dr Anthony Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease expert, that research by leading virologists showed the virus’ mutations were “totally consistent” with animal-to-human transmission.

On Tuesday, Mr Cui said: “There is little attention being paid to the views of scientists,

“What are these people up to? Why are they doing all this when our priority is to save lives?

“Why, at a time when we need science so badly, are there so many rumours swirling around?”

During Tuesday’s press briefing Trump was asked if his intelligence personnel have discussed with him the theory that the virus was engineered by a Chinese lab.

READ MORE: Italy sees drop in active coronavirus cases for second day in a row

Donald Trump

Donald Trump said that his administration was conducting an investigation into the origins of the pandemic (Image: Getty)

“Let me tell you what they told me,” the president replied. “Look, they told me plenty. They told me plenty.”

Mr Cui seemed on Tuesday to admit that Chinese officials had not been entirely faultless in their own acceptance of conspiracy theories.

When asked about statements made by Zhao Lijian, a mid-level foreign ministry official who publicly fuelled conspiracy theories that the virus was inserted in Wuhan by US soldiers last year, Mr Cui said that such blame games were being played out by “a small number of such politicians” and did not mirror the views of either country’s wider public.

Zhao Lijian’s accusations led to an anti-China sentiment among officials in the Trump’s administration.

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Coronavirus: Top countries affected

Coronavirus: Top countries affected (Image: EXPRESS)

The US President has often referred to the disease as the “Chinese virus”.

To date, more than 42,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US, nearly 10 times higher than China’s official figure of around 4,600.

Congressional Republicans and administration officials created a strategy to hold China to account for the spread of the virus, including calls for financial reparations.

On Tuesday, Missouri’s state attorney general, a Republican, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Chinese government, alleging that Chinese officials were “responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic troubles they caused the world, including Missourians.

Zhao Lijian

Zhao Lijian’s accusations led to an anti-China sentiment among US officials (Image: Getty)

But as election season draws near, Mr Cui said, he did not think Americans wanted to make China the “centrepiece” of their internal political discussion, implying that Americans were more concerned about matters like health care, education and job security.

Addressing criticism – much of it from US administration officials – that Beijing had lessened the severity of the outbreak and hidden data, Mr Cui said: “We are doing our best to have transparency.

“We are discovering, we are learning. At the same time, we are sharing.”

As tensions between Washington and Beijing have calmed down, Cui said that he hoped the global crisis would offer an opportunity for “a serious rethinking of the very foundations of this important relationship”.

Mr Cui added that the pandemic had brought to light the two nations’ shared vulnerabilities and “true common interests”.

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