The Chinese ambassador in Nicosia is firing back at US and media criticism over his country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he believes Cyprus will win the battle against the coronavirus.
Ambassador Xingyuan Huang responded to a series of questions posted on the Chinese embassy’s website, addressing his country’s and Cyprus’ response to the virus, as well as raising concern over media coverage.
In an op-ed published on Sunday, US ambassador to Cyprus Judith Garber accused China of lack of transparency in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.
Origins of coronavirus pandemic
“The fact that the outbreak originated in Wuhan, Hubei province – and that the Chinese government was the first to know about it – is indisputable,” Garber wrote, adding that the virus had been “circulating in Wuhan since December, or earlier.”
Huang argued that the jury was still out on the origin of the coronavirus, which he described as a question for science, adding the World Health Organization and the international community have been against efforts to link the virus to a specific country, area, or race.
“Even if the origin is found to come from the US, I believe China will not call it the ‘American virus’,” the ambassador from China said, pointing out that “we did not call the pandemic a hundred years ago ‘American flu’ or AIDS as ‘American AIDS’, although they were first found in the United States.”
'Even if the origin is found to come from the US, I believe China will not call it the American virus’ the ambassador said
Huang spoke against stigmatization as the coronavirus spread was accelerating across the globe, calling on countries to work together to overcome difficulties.
But Garber argued that China “made extensive preparations to protect their own population, while only selectively sharing information, such as genetic sequence data,” adding that the world including Cyprus “might have been spared the impact” had PRC authorities sounded the alarm sooner.
In response to a question about US politicians labeling the Covid-19 disease as “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus,” Huang said it was “ignorant and shameful” to disregard science and WHO guidance.
“Finding a scapegoat and engaging in political manipulation will not help the US to overcome the epidemic, nor will it contribute to the international cooperation in fighting the epidemic,” the Chinese ambassador added.
Huang said Cyprus had shown support for China when the People’s Republic “went all-out fighting the epidemic, and China has taken it to heart” adding that his country was ready to provide any assistance to Cyprus.
“China has been working around the clock to overcome the difficulties such as insufficient domestic production capacity and insufficient international transport capacity, to collect special protective masks, medical masks, protective uniforms, goggles and other medical supplies that are in short supply in Cyprus,” the ambassador said, adding that businesses and the Chinese community on the island were also pitching in.
“I believe that under the strong leadership of the Cypriot government, with the active cooperation of the Cypriot people, and with the full support of the Chinese government, the island will eventually win the battle against the epidemic,” Huang said.
Garber wrote that US innovators were rushing to develop a vaccine, with new treatment options being tested in the United States and Asia. She also praised the work being done at the Cyprus Institute for Neurology and Genetics, which was founded and supported by USAID funds.
But she took issue with China and overall costs in addressing the pandemic, including what she described as PRC “suppressing important factual information, the impact of failing to share information during the early stages of the epidemic, and the fallout from disinformation campaigns throughout the course of this pandemic.”
Huang criticized the United States for what he described as “groundless and non-stop suppression of Chinese media agencies in the US.” The Chinese ambassador was responding to a question over reports that both countries had expelled journalists, saying China’s actions were “reasonable and justifiable.”
The Chinese ambassador spoke of reciprocity, saying the US was delaying visa applications of Chinese journalists. He also accused American authorities of expelling “unjustifiably” some 60 reporters from China.
The world’s two largest economies have been at odds over a trade war following the election of US President Donald Trump, who advocated for tariffs as a solution for reducing his country’s trade deficit.
A message of hope: A Chinese perspective on how #Cyprus government and its people can benefit from China’s struggles, efforts and experience in dealing, combating and controlling #COVID19. ΜΑΖΙ ΜΠΟΡΟΥΜΕ. Link ➡️ https://t.co/Px9mb1Kb8o pic.twitter.com/t3L95xnUyO— Huang Xingyuan (@AmbassadorHuang) March 29, 2020