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The Chinese government is accusing the United States of engaging in “malicious fabrication” over its efforts to get the U.N. Security Council to state explicitly that the coronavirus pandemic began in Wuhan, China — part of an escalating battle between the two countries on the matter.
NBC News first reported Thursday that talks at the council over a joint declaration or resolution on the global pandemic have stalled over the U.S. demand that it explicitly name Wuhan as the source of the virus.
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A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Fox News that the U.S. suggested language that would name Wuhan, China, and that the Chinese were unhappy about the push.
“All members of the Security Council must recognize the threat that China’s mishandling of the outbreak poses to international peace and security,” a State Department official later told Fox News. “The People’s Republic of China has been more interested in saving face than saving lives.”
The Chinese Mission to the U.N., when asked by Fox News about the effort, said on Thursday that it was “astonished by the choice of the United States to use whatever venue and opportunity for politicizing the COVID-19 and blaming China, which we strongly oppose.”
“The groundless accusations and malicious fabrication from the United States aim at shirking its own responsibilities, which severely poisoned the atmosphere of the global cooperation in containing the outbreak,” a spokesperson said. “We strongly urge the United States to stop such irresponsible practices and listen to the voice of the American people. The United States should indeed shoulder its responsibilities to save lives instead of going further down the wrong path.”
The U.S. State Department official said on Thursday that the U.S. backs a resolution that would praise first responders and medical personnel and reinforce the importance of international cooperation, as well as the need for all member states to act quickly and with full transparency to end the pandemic. It would also back a resolution that demands a pause to all hostilities to enable the international community to quickly tackle the spread of the virus.
But the official also noted that, since the virus broke in China, Beijing has a “special responsibility” to be fully transparent about the virus: “Instead they suppressed information and punished doctors and journalists who raised the alarm.”
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“We call on PRC authorities to provide accurate and prompt public health reporting, timely access to all relevant information, and respect for freedom of expression so that lessons learned, best practices, and innovations can be shared freely between peoples to facilitate the most globally effective response to minimize deaths,” the official said.
President Trump has repeatedly named the coronavirus “the Chinese virus” and has blamed the Chinese for its “secretive” approach in the early days of the crisis. That was after Chinese officials began dabbling in conspiracy theories that the U.S. Army was the cause of the virus.
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But Trump has also taken a conciliatory approach to Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom he says he has a good relationship.
“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect,” Trump tweeted Friday.