A senior Chinese official has hit back at criticism over how China handled the Covid-19 outbreak, saying it was “utterly unjustifiable” to accuse Beijing of hiding information about the coronavirus and causing its spread to other countries.
Mr Guo Weimin, spokesman for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body to the Chinese government, also said yesterday that it was “unreasonable” to say Beijing was trying to boost its international standing, and compete for world leadership by sending medical supplies and aid to others.
China had done these things, in addition to sharing its experience in dealing with the outbreak, so that the pandemic can be brought under control in those countries and normalcy restored as soon as possible, he said.
“To accuse China of trying to boost its profile and even saying that ‘China wants to compete for world leadership’ – this is unreasonable and a very narrow-minded way of thinking.”
His comments at a briefing for foreign and local media come on the eve of China’s Two Sessions – the most important political meetings of the year. The annual Two Sessions, known as “lianghui”, are meetings of the CPPCC and National People’s Congress, China’s legislature.
Beijing has been grappling both with international criticism that it hid information during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak, and growing calls for an international investigation over the origins of the pandemic.
Mr Guo said “some politicians in the United States and a few other countries” have politicised the pandemic and are trying to discredit China for their own domestic political needs – in order to divert people’s attentions and shirk their responsibilities.
He pointed out that China has had an “open, transparent and responsible attitude” in releasing information related to Covid-19 in a timely manner.
This included reporting to the World Health Organisation about the outbreak on Jan 3 and sharing the genomic sequence of the coronavirus with the world on Jan 12.
China has also held regular press briefings on its measures to deal with its domestic outbreak, which have served as an “important guide for the world”, he said.
“To say that China hid information on the pandemic and caused it to spread to other countries, this is utterly unjustifiable.”
Addressing concerns over quality issues in medical supplies that Beijing sent to other countries, he said strict measures have been taken to ensure quality.
“China exports a large amount of medical materials, but there are only a few of them with problems.”