(7 Apr 2020) China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday defended its practices surrounding donations and sales of masks and other medical supplies to Europe, saying it was doing its “best to provide assistance.”
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pushed back against a report published in The Spectator, a British current affairs magazine, which claimed that Italy was being forced to buy back medical supplies that it had previously donated for free to China.
Zhao called the claims “inhumane and immoral,” adding that “we sincerely hope that Italy will bring the epidemic under control as soon as possible, and the health of the Italian people will be guaranteed.”
As the fight against the new coronavirus shifts to Europe and beyond, China is supplying millions of masks and other desperately needed items to struggling governments, hoping to build political ties and defuse criticism that it allowed the disease to spread early on.
It’s part of an effort by the Communist Party to reshape the narrative, from one of early missteps to a nation that acted decisively to bring the outbreak under control.
China is touting its deliveries of ventilators and masks overseas, and dispatching medical experts to share the lessons of its success.
Also Tuesday, Zhao attacked comments by U.S. Congressman Mark Green, who said China told France it would provide face masks on the condition that France allow Shenzhen-based telecommunications giant Huawei to help build its 5G network.
“Individual American politicians spare no effort to fabricate lies and spread false news in order to undermine international cooperation in fighting the epidemic,” Zhao said.
He added that China “never set any conditions” for its assistance to France.
China and the U.S. are locked in a growing competition over trade and technology, and in the past few years Washington has put pressure on its allies to block Huawei from their telecommunications networks.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.
But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia and lead to death.
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