China’s foreign minister has accused the US of spreading “conspiracies and lies” about the coronavirus, ratcheting up tensions between the two nations.
The US has been infected by a “political virus” that compels some politicians to repeatedly attack China, Wang Yi told reporters on Sunday.
He urged the US to “stop wasting time and stop wasting precious lives” in its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have escalated as the virus has spread.
US President Donald Trump, who faces re-election this year and has been criticised for his handling of the pandemic, has blamed China for trying to cover up the outbreak.
But on Sunday, Mr Wang repeated China’s assertions that it had acted responsibly to safeguard global public health since the virus first emerged in December.
Speaking at an annual news conference during China’s parliamentary session, Mr Wang said that “some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage”.
He did not specify what those forces were, but said they were trying to “push our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War”.
“Aside from the devastation caused by the novel coronavirus, there is also a political virus spreading through the US,” he continued.
“This political virus is the use of every opportunity to attack and smear China,” he said. “Some politicians completely disregard basic facts and have fabricated too many lies targeting China, and plotted too many conspiracies.”
But he called for co-operation between Washington and Beijing in tackling the outbreak.
“Both of us bear a major responsibility for world peace and development,” he said. “China and the United States stand to gain from co-operation, and lose from confrontation.”
President Trump and Beijing have traded repeated barbs in recent weeks, on issues from the World Health Organization (WHO) to potential lawsuits against China over its alleged cover-up of the outbreak.