Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks on US Stigmatizing China's Efforts in Combating COVID-19
2020/03/26

1

Q: As we saw from a press photo of US President Trump speech notes, which were prepared for his press conference on March 18, the printed "corona" in the word "coronavirus" was crossed out and replaced by handwritten "Chinese". He said at the press conference that it was a war against the "Chinese virus", which he claimed is not racist at all. According to him, the virus comes from China. "The Chinese side could have informed us earlier, and it would have been great if we had known earlier". Some other US officials also said that China lacks openness and transparency in sharing information about the outbreak, causing the delay in the US prevention and control response to the epidemic.

A: Recently, some in the US have been deliberately linking the novel coronavirus to China and stigmatizing China non-stop. We are strongly indignant and opposed to it. Their claims of China lacking openness and transparency are simply fact-distorting.

Here, I would like to emphasize the following points:

First, the origin of the novel coronavirus is a scientific matter that requires professional and scientific assessment. The World Health Organization and the international community have reached clear consensus to reject stigmatization by linking the virus to specific countries or regions.

Second, after the outbreak, China has timely adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures, and we have basically brought the outbreak under control within a short period of time. The Chinese people have made great sacrifices and contributions to global public health security as well as the health and safety of mankind. China's open, transparent and responsible attitude and active participation in international cooperation have been universally acclaimed by the international community.

Third, China has kept the US informed of the situation since the epidemic broke out. The two sides have maintained close communication. I want to take a few moments to elaborate, and I hope the US will lend an ear to this.

Since January 3, China has been notifying the US side of epidemic developments, prevention and control measures on a regular basis.

On January 4, heads of Chinese and American centers for disease control and prevention spoke on the phone. The two sides agreed to keep close communication on information sharing and technical cooperation.

On January 25, President Trump tweeted that China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus. The US greatly appreciates China's efforts and transparency.

On January 27, principal health officials in China and the United States spoke on the phone. The US side expressed appreciation over the Chinese government's transparency in response to the outbreak and the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the health sector.

On January 29, China's National Health Commission talked to the US side through official channel that the US was welcome to join the China-WHO Joint Mission on COVID-19. The US side expressed thanks on the same day.

On February 7, Chinese and US presidents had a phone conversation. President Trump made positive comments on China's response to the outbreak and tweeted on the same day that great discipline was taking place in China and it will be a very successful operation. The US was working closely with China.

On February 8, principal officials of Chinese and American health authorities had another discussion over arrangements regarding the participation of US experts in the China-WHO Joint Mission.

On February 11, principal officials of Chinese and American centers for disease control and prevention discussed technical issues in epidemiology as well as prevention and control strategies.

From February 16 to 24, the China-WHO Joint Mission with two American experts on board conducted their nine-day field trip in China and highly appraised China's prevention and control measures. They specifically pointed out that China has played a vital role in protecting the international community, as China's measures have bought valuable time and provided valuable experience for all.

On March 12, the US embassy in China was invited to attend a briefing on China's experience in COVID-19 prevention and treatment, which was jointly held by the NHC and WHO.

On March 13, President Trump told reporters that the data China shared are helpful for the US efforts against the epidemic.

Judging from the above facts, it is perfectly clear that over the past two months or so, the Chinese side has timely provided information to and carried out technological cooperation with the US side. The Chinese people have been united in one mission to fight the COVID-19. Our efforts have bought precious time for the whole world. Unfortunately, however, even many American media and experts believe that time has been regrettably wasted and squandered away by the US side.

Finally, I would like to stress that some people on the US side are trying to stigmatize China's efforts in an attempt to shirk responsibility. They have ignored the huge sacrifices the Chinese people made in safeguarding the health and safety of all mankind, and vilified China's significant contributions to global public health security. Their moves run counter to the WHO's professional advice and the expectations and efforts of the international community to fight the pandemic together. We hope the US side will respect facts and the international consensus, and keep its own house in order rather than slander others and shift responsibility. It needs to play a constructive role in enhancing international cooperation and safeguarding international public health security.

2

Q: President Trump said at press conferences on March 20 and 21 that China could have told the US earlier about the outbreak. According to US media reports, on March 20, the White House National Security Council launched a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that accuses China of "orchestrating a cover-up and creating a global pandemic". What is your comment?

A: I've read that report. And I also saw another report saying that on March 20, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the press that China, Russia and Iran were spreading disinformation and smearing US epidemic response.

Putting them together, you will find that on the very day of March 20, the US was on the one hand pushing federal agencies to speak against China and on the other hand accusing China, Russia and Iran of disseminating disinformation. I just can't help asking who is really spreading disinformation to mislead the public? The US, like a thief crying stop thief, has played such a cheap trick of slander and smear.

Last Friday, I detailed the notification and communication on COVID-19 between China and the US since the outbreak in a timeline. China has been sharing epidemic information with relevant countries and regions, the US included, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, which is universally acclaimed by the international community. Over the past two months or so, the Chinese people have united as one to fight against it. We have bought precious time for and made significant contributions to the world.

The WHO said that countries like Singapore and the ROK have made full use of the precious time China bought for the world and taken necessary prevention and control measures to stem the spread of the epidemic. What has the US done during the same period?

Since January 3, China has been regularly updating the WHO and countries, the US included. On January 23, China announced suspension of outbound public transport from Wuhan. When the US government announced the denial of entry by foreigners who had visited China in the past 14 days on February 2, only about 10 confirmed cases were reported in the US. Fifty days on, the number of confirmed cases in the US has soared from 10 to more than 30,000. Has the US taken any effective measures in the past 50 days? The US side has done nothing but waste the precious time China bought. Now the US has nothing better to do than discredit others, deflect responsibilities and find scapegoats. This is immoral and irresponsible. It will not help the US stop the pandemic, nor will it support the international community's joint efforts against it.

I once again urge the US to immediately stop politicizing the pandemic, stigmatizing China and denigrating other countries. The US should focus on getting its own house in order and play a constructive role in the global combat against the pandemic and safeguarding global public health security.

3

China Daily: China has deplored and rejected the phrase "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus" used by a few individuals in the US. However, US Secretary of State Pompeo still used "Wuhan virus" in his tweet on March 23. Do you have anything more to say on this?

Geng Shuang: The Chinese side has repeated many times that some people in the US have been seeking by every means to link the virus with China and stigmatize China. This was met with strong indignation and firm objection from the Chinese people. WHO and the international community explicitly oppose linking the virus with any specific country or region and reject stigmatization.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said "it is shameful to see increasing acts of racial discrimination and prejudice as we fight the COVID19 pandemic" and "we must always fight racism and prejudice". EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said the virus knows no border and we need cooperation and multilateralism, instead of competition and recrimination, in face of the common challenge for mankind. It is not the time for countries to blame one another with terms like "Chinese virus". WHO believes that we should avoid calling it "Chinese virus". Now is the moment for solidarity, for respecting facts and for fighting together.

Some in the US who can still see things clearly have publicly opposed the saying of "Chinese virus", pointing out that it is bald-faced racism and xenophobia. They believe that calling it "Chinese virus" will expose certain people under the risk of racism and violence. The novel coronavirus affects everyone and needs to be tackled with joint efforts, instead of fear-mongering in a xenophobic way. Many mainstream media and think tanks in the US have also strongly criticized the absurd remarks made by certain American individuals.

Recently, there have been some arguments between China and the US about the origin of the virus. I want to point out that it was the US side that started this argument. It was also the US that first claimed that the virus originated in China and used such terms as "Chinese virus" and "Wuhan virus". According to media reports, as early as March 6, Pompeo started to use "Wuhan virus" in public remarks. Since then, some US politicians and senior officials have been using this term to stigmatize China, causing great anger and strong opposition from the Chinese people. What I just cited are public records. There is no way for the US to deny this.

Finally, I wish certain people in the US could heed the reasonable voice at home and from the international community and stop making wrongful remarks that stigmatize China. We hope they can understand that confounding public opinion, deflecting responsibilities and shouting "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus" will not help with their own or the international efforts against the pandemic. The top priority for the US should be focusing on putting their own house in order and working with China and the international community to contribute to the global fight against the pandemic.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-62283999, Fax: 0061-2-62283836
E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia All Rights Reserved