Europeans want more transparency from Beijing, but remain cautious about the claim that the virus spread from a Chinese lab. For the Bild newspaper, the Chinese are trying to save face. Missouri and an Italian hotelier are suing China.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The number of countries criticising China for its handling of the pandemic crisis is growing. Germany, France and the United Kingdom have started to press China for more transparency on what happened in Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic.
So far, the toughest attacks against Beijing, accused of not telling the truth about the origin and spread of the disease, have come from the United States. However, backed by the World Health Organisation, China continues to repeat that the pandemic is a scientific problem and should not be "politicised".
Europeans want more cooperation from China, but remain cautious about the claim that the virus spread from a virology lab in Wuhan, something the US government has not dismissed.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked China to share more information on COVID-19. A few days earlier, Germany’s Development Minister, Gerd Müller, had questioned Beijing's sincerity about the origin of the pandemic.
In Germany, the hardest attack came from Bild. On 15 April, Germany’s best-selling newspaper wrote that China should pay €150 billion for damages caused by its slow response to the pandemic.
Reacting to criticism from the Chinese embassy against this article, the newspaper’s editor, Julian Reichelt, slammed Chinese authorities and scientists, whom he believes are guilty of hiding the situation to save face before domestic and international public opinion.
Reichelt excoriates China’s Communist regime, which he says systematically monitors the population and closes newspapers critical of its leaders, but then refuses to control and close the animal markets from where viruses like COVID-19 and SARS can spread. It is thought that the COVID-19 infection could have started from an outdoor market in Wuhan.
China’s response to the outbreak has grey areas, said French President Emmanuel Macron. Things “happened [in Wuhan] that we don’t know about”, he said.
For British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, relations with Beijing will no longer be the same once the emergency is over. “We’ll have to ask the hard questions about how it came about, and how it could have been stopped earlier,” he said.
William Hague, a former Tory leader and foreign secretary who now sits in the House of Lords, said that China has shown that it does not “play by our rules” and is not a reliable partner.
The British parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has warned that an orchestrated disinformation campaign by China is “costing British lives” in the fight against coronavirus.
According to official data, Europe and the United States are the areas most affected by the coronavirus. In addition to the shock of losing thousands of lives, European countries and the United States are now facing the economic fallout from the crisis.
The Attorney General of the US State of Missouri is suing China for the human and material losses caused by COVID-19. The US Congress is debating a legislation that would allow US citizens and state governments to sue China.
Meanwhile, in Italy, where part of the government majority has so far preferred to praise China rather than criticise its management of the fight against coronavirus, there is action in the courts.
A hotelier in Cortina d'Ampezzo is suing the Chinese Ministry of Health in a court in Belluno (Veneto) on charges of delaying the release of information about the infection, seriously damaging his business.