The origins of the coronavirus

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch

The origin of the novel coronavirus has been widely discussed online since the outbreak. Conspiracy theories around it have also emerged endlessly.

A previous scientific study suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has a natural origin.

“Certainly some of the early cases were linked to the seafood market in Wuhan, but others, including earlier ones, were not,” Dr. Robert Garry, a professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine and also co-author of the study, told CGTN in an email interview.

“The virus came into the market not from the market,” he added.

“We don’t know where the novel coronavirus came from. The spark landed in Wuhan, but we don’t know where the spark came from. It could have come from just about anywhere in nature on planet Earth.”

In a recent interview with ABC News, he also pointed out that it’s a misconception to believe the virus originated at a seafood market in Wuhan, China.

According to Dr. Garry, the pandemic may have been triggered by a mutation in surface proteins of the virus. It’s also possible that a less severe version of the illness was circulating through the population for years, perhaps even decades, before escalating to this point.

Besides, he also refuted the conspiracy which claimed the virus was lab-made.

“No scientist, in China, America or elsewhere, possibly could have constructed this virus in a laboratory,” he told CGTN.

Evidence for natural selection

Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. In a study published on Nature Medicine, a group of scientists from the U.S. Britain, Australia analyzed two specific features of spike proteins of the virus, which are responsible for griping and entering into the host cells.

The results show that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is optimized for binding to a molecular on the outside of human cells, so efficient that scientists concluded it was the result of natural selection and not a purposefully manipulated virus.

Besides, if someone were trying to make a new virus, they have to engineer it from the backbone–molecular structure of a virus which is known to cause diseases in human, scientists said.

But what they found is that the SARS-CoV-2 backbone is not derived from any previously used virus backbone. The most closely resembled backbones were discovered in bats and pangolins.

“These two features of the virus, the mutations in the RBD portion of the spike protein and its distinct backbone, rules out laboratory manipulation as a potential origin for SARS-CoV-2,” Kristian Andersen, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and corresponding author of the paper told Science Daily.

Two possible answers to the SARS-CoV-2 origin

What is exactly the natural origin blamed for COVID-19 has yet been worked out by global scientists. But they do propose two possible scenarios that can plausibly explain the origin of SARS-CoV-2, that is natural selection in an animal host before zoonotic transfer, and natural selection in humans following zoonotic transfer.

According to Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, in the first scenario, as the new coronavirus evolved in its natural hosts, possibly bats or pangolins, its spike proteins mutated to bind to molecules similar in structure to the human protein, thereby enabling it to infect human cells. Both the SARS and MERS outbreak followed this way.

The second scenario is that the new coronavirus crossed from animals into humans before it became capable of causing human disease.

Then, as a result of natural evolution, the virus eventually gained the ability to spread human-to-human and cause diseases. 

Source: People’s Daily

China issues new measures to ensure quality of medical supplies exports

China has taken new measures to ensure the quality of medical supplies exports amid the global fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), authorities said.

Starting Wednesday, exporters of medical products including COVID-19 testing kits, medical face masks, medical protective suits, ventilators and infrared thermometers need to provide extra documentation when they go through customs clearance, according to the commerce ministry.

The document, in either print or digital form, should contain a declaration that the products have been officially registered in China and meet the quality-control standards of respective export destinations, the commerce ministry said in a notice on its website.

The customs will release the exports based on certificates of registration approved by medical product administrations, according to the notice jointly issued with the General Administration of Customs and the National Medical Products Administration.

The notice urges exporters to ensure the quality of their products to help the international community fight the epidemic.

Source: Xinhua

‘It’s not a Chinese virus,’ says head of International Vaccine Institute while calling for global co-op on COVID-19

The world should fight the coronavirus together because the virus attacks everyone, said Jerome Kim, head of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI).

“Together we need to find treatments that work. We have to find a vaccine that works,” Kim said during an interview with India’s NDTV.

Kim was responding to a question about whether Asian people are better immune to the coronavirus.

“It’s not a Chinese virus … [COVID-19] is a virus that’s attacking everyone in the world,” he told NDTV.

But it seems that the expert’s comments did not sit well with many YouTube users, with many criticizing him for going against U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly used the misnomer “Chinese virus” to refer to the novel coronavirus.

Kim has used the sentence for a different purpose to emphasize that the virus in China is not different from that in the rest of the world, which means the virus can easily infect anyone like it did in China.

Origins of COVID-19 still debated

Plenty online are still pointing fingers at China because they think the virus originated in the country.

Though there’s no hard proof backing it, many have held this opinion since China was the first country to witness a major outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Some have even gone as far as saying China manufactured the virus in the lab as a bioweapon, which has drawn condemnation and clarifications from many renowned researchers.

Fingers have also been pointed at the U.S., after some discovered that a U.S. army biological lab – Fort Detrick – was shut down not long before the outbreak.

Both claims are not backed by evidence.

Contagious disease experts have maintained that the virus is not man-made.

It’s still unknown when and how the virus jumped from animals to humans. It may not matter a lot right now because stopping the pandemic is much more important than finding which country should be blamed.

Kim went on television mainly to share lessons from South Korea’s COVID-19 response – good preparation pays off.

Source: CGTN

‘Lack of transparency’ claims ungrounded

With increasing awareness of the coronavirus, China has developed the trial version 7 of the diagnosis and treatment protocol for novel coronavirus pneumonia, and the criteria for confirmed cases has been repeatedly revised and become more rational.

In spite of the absence of global common criteria for confirmed cases, diagnosis across the world tends to be based on clinical symptoms, CT manifestations and test results. Hence, the number of infected cases should be similar even if applying criteria of different countries. The opinion of some Western media outlets that the purpose of China adopting a different way to classify confirmed patients to other countries is to get a lower rate of infection is totally wrong.

Western media is still criticizing China for initially concealing data and the severity, nature and scale of the outbreak. Since NHCPRC classified the novel coronavirus pneumonia as an epidemic on January 20, China has been reporting on the outbreak in a timely way. In the early stages, China indeed had little idea of COVID-19, nor was it capable of diagnosing the disease when it barely distinguished it from the normal flu. It is true that initial reporting lacked accuracy, but it is wrong to regard that as a cover-up. Absent from the initial investigation, Western countries cannot empathize with China’s hardships at that time.

I have no idea what scientific basis there is for scientists’ claims that China’s outbreak could be “downplayed by a factor of 15 to 40 times.” If it is a mathematical model, these scientists seem to only take the laws of virus transmission into account and ignore deliberate intervention to curb the outbreak. With effective measures, the outbreak in China rules out the possibility of following that trend.

Such a conclusion must be inaccurate. It may turn out to be appropriate to apply the model to European countries and the US, where countermeasures are far from effective and complete.

The intention of some European and US politicians of passing the buck to China is to divert blame for their poor response to the outbreak. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, even demanded China to “pay damages to the US and the world,” which sounds really absurd. Politicians use such rhetoric for political purposes, but it is astonishing to hear scientists, who are usually known as rigorous and unbiased, make such statements over China’s number of confirmed cases.

If these scientific advisors’ notions were true, would the Chinese government lift the lockdown in Wuhan, the worst-hit city in China by COVID-19? Warehouse and logistics businesses in Chinese metropolises, like Beijing and Shanghai, have nearly returned to normal, and a wealth of factories and firms have resumed operations. As of April 1, over 82,000 cases were confirmed in China, according to figures released by the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University. Following the logic of these UK scientists, there would be over 3 million infected patients, which is inconsistent with China’s current social trends.

Furthermore, how could these British scientists know the exact number of China’s infected cases? The data held by the Chinese government must be the most accurate, and what it discloses is also transparent. With a population of over 1.4 billion, we can’t rule out the possibility of deflection, but 15 to 40 times is over-exaggerated.

I suppose the claims that these scientists had made are just conjectural, based on their prejudice against China, which is shared by many Western countries. They are skeptical of anything the Chinese government is doing or has done: information or data Beijing declared on coronavirus is “false,” “concealed,” or “misleading.” They regard China’s assistance to other countries and regions on COVID-19 as “Chinese PR propaganda.”

In the face of the global pandemic, all countries across the world should adopt a cooperative stance, discard all prejudices, and overcome any obstacles on geopolitical contradiction, historical feuds and interest conflicts. COVID-19 is a common foe for humanity; no country is capable of tackling it by itself. Only by global coordination can we beat the disease.

Source: Global Times

US, UK politicians can’t twist virus public opinion

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to accuse China on Monday. With the push from Washington, some British officials have also begun complaining about so-called China’s disinformation campaign. In the meantime, queries on China have increased in Western media outlets’ reports. But this cannot represent the entire public opinion in the West. Criticism of the US and Britain is of a similar amount, suggesting the two countries’ real intention is to pass the buck to China.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weakness and idleness of some Western governments in handling an emergency. Some officials in the West tried to make China a scapegoat of their incompetence, demonstrating how shameless Western politicians can be. Those politicians care only about their personal political interests and are not capable of leading a battle against the coronavirus. Hence, they are disrupting public opinion in an attempt to cover their inability.

No official in the US or Britain or any other Western country has reportedly been held accountable and removed from their position due to gross neglect of duty that led to the dire outbreak in their countries. The lawmakers always have excuses for whatever they do. 

The US and British governments are not too busy to reflect on their flawed handling of the virus. In contrast, officials in the two countries seem to have been engaged in reflection – they have nitpicked on China and made it a target for their people to vent anger. They are genuine politicians who have been figuring a way to pull themselves unscathed from the catastrophe rather than focused on how to plug in the loopholes to flatten the curve.

It is absurd to accuse China of a disinformation campaign or attempt to hold China accountable. And this cannot and will not stop US and British societies from digging out the real reason and criticizing those who made them suffer the pandemic.

Accusing China of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic runs counter to common sense. As early as at the start of January, China had notified the WHO and relevant countries of the epidemic, but all sides including China lacked awareness of the severity of the coronavirus at that time. Then China warned of human-to-human transmission on January 20 and locked down Wuhan on January 23, showing the world the severity of the epidemic with action.

Politicians in the US, UK and other countries looked at China with indifference and were busy taking pleasure from China’s misfortune. They remained blindly optimistic even when South Korea, Italy and Iran entered perilous situations. Their performance at that time was really shameful.

It is a daydream for some Western politicians to make China accountable and ask for compensation. There is no legal basis for it. Given their so-called mechanism of compensation, then how much money should the US pay for the AIDS and the H1N1 pandemic it brought upon the world?

China is no longer a country that can be bullied by foreigners. Some US and British politicians might still linger in a dream of the good old days.

Some Westerners are stubbornly against the world’s solidarity in battling the pandemic. They will be more disgusting to the international community as the fight becomes fiercer. China should counterattack their vicious rhetoric but should not be distracted by them. As long as China focuses on morality and justice, comprehensively aiding other countries’ fight against the pandemic, those filthy politicians will never be able to blot out China’s sacrifice, contributions, and achievements in this crucial battle.

Source: Global Times

Anti-China chorus can’t mask country’s contributions to virus fight

The US and some other Western countries have been recently launching continuous public opinion attacks on China from changing perspectives. They accused China of concealing data on the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, politicized disputes over the quality of certain medical supplies shipped from China to the West, threw mud at China’s diplomacy and demanded China be held accountable for the coronavirus outbreak, as if they are in tune with a new anti-China chorus.

There are three reasons for the emergence of this chorus. First, some forces with an inherent paranoid stance toward China will inevitably respond in this way under the current circumstances. Second, they feel frustrated as China has got the epidemic under control, while US and European countries are being severely hit. Third, ruling and ideological elites in some countries failed to explain the plight their states are grappling with to the public, therefore resorting to diverting domestic anger by scapegoating China.

More attacks on China are likely to occur in the future. But we do not think they will constrain China. China must continue its prevention efforts and strengthen cooperation with other countries to cope with the pandemic. Lies will be eventually revealed and they cannot dominate the world’s understanding of the virus fight. 

There are three facts worth underlining. First, China has done a great job in containing the epidemic. We reversed the situation in two months. The number of infections and deaths in China, a gigantic society with a population of over 1 billion, constitutes an impressive contrast with the figures outside the country. This displays the extraordinary mobilization capabilities of the Chinese government and people to everyone around the world and is a powerful enough fact to crush any political smears on China. 

Second, China has become a force of support in the global pandemic fight after overcoming its initial predicament. It has dispatched medical supplies and experts to other countries, a contribution to the international community that cannot be denied no matter how hard some forces find fault with China. China’s most powerful response to slander is to offer more sincere support for countries in difficulties. Actions speak louder than words.

Third, China is the first country to have started post-epidemic reconstruction. Although the coronavirus outbreak has been controlled, it is not completely over. There are still many risks ahead and it is hard to coordinate resumption of work and production, restart consumption and continue the virus fight at this critical moment. China’s exploration is of great value to the world no matter it’s smooth or not.

Facing external public opinion attacks, at China’s disposal are an unprecedented number of facts. For one thing, China must resolutely strike back at the attackers’ faulty logic and factual defects. For another, China must maintain its confidence that absurdities will be crushed by facts when it comes to certain inflection points.

The lie that China caused the US to become the country that is worst-hit by the pandemic will be angrily rejected by the American public at some inflection point. If the US cannot concentrate on fighting the pandemic, which could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths as estimated by US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, yet China has managed the situation well at the same time, the lies will not be sustained eventually.

Although China’s system has deficiencies, it serves the people and always gives priority to people’s lives and safety during crises. This has been made crystal clear now.

US President Donald Trump said keeping US COVID-19 deaths to 100,000 would be a “very good job.” Any Chinese official uttering the same words during China’s outbreak would be overwhelmed by curses.

Many uncertainties lie ahead. China must deal with them with solidarity and confidence. We are the largest society in the world, diligent, kind-hearted, energetic and positive. As long as we handle every matter well and treat others with earnest, no forces can coerce or hurt us. 

Source: Global Times

Wuhan Lockdown saved hundreds of thousands of lives: study

A new study published Tuesday by Science magazine suggests that the lockdown of Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, combined with the Level 1 national emergency response, averted hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases in China by Feb. 19.

The study, led by Tian Huaiyu of Beijing Normal University, focused on the development of the epidemic in the first 50 days in China, which ended on Feb. 19.

To more quantitively investigate the impact of travel restrictions and social distancing measures on infection spread, the researchers used a unique geocoded repository of data on COVID-19 epidemiology, human movement, and public health intervention in China in an analysis that spanned from Dec. 31, 2019 to Feb, 19, 2020.

During this period, China imposed a travel ban on Wuhan, where the outbreak first started, on Jan. 23 and raised its national public health response to the highest state: Level 1, including suspended public transport, closed entertainment venues, and bans on large public gatherings.

On average, the travel ban delayed the arrival time of COVID-19 in cities by an estimated 2.91 days, according to the study.

Cities that implemented a Level 1 response before cases were reported had 33.3 percent fewer laboratory-confirmed cases during the first week of their outbreaks, the data show.

Without the travel ban on Wuhan or the national emergency response, there would have been approximately 744,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside Wuhan by Feb. 19, the model suggests.

With the ban alone, there would have been approximately 202,000 cases; and while with the national emergency response alone, the figure would have decreased to roughly 199,000, according to the study.

Neither intervention alone would have reversed the rise in incidence by Feb. 19. But together, they offer an explanation for limiting the number of confirmed cases to 29,839, 96 percent fewer than expected in the absence of interventions by day 50, according to the study.

Source: Xinhua

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on March 30 and 31, 2020 on COVID-19:

Agence France-Presse: A European country’s government official claimed recently that China is using the assistance it is providing to other countries on COVID-19 to manipulate public opinion, and called it “Chinese propaganda”. Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: I have not seen the report you mentioned. I am not aware that it is under what circumstances and on what specific issues the official you mentioned made these remarks.

Recently I have been hearing some people in the West raising the issue of Chinese “political propaganda”, and I would like to ask what on earth are they referring to? Do they want China to sit idle and do nothing while other countries are braving the pandemic with so many people suffering and the number of casualties climbing higher with each passing day? Or do they think that they can do more and better than China? If that’s the case, we would love to see all countries strengthening solidarity and providing more valuable and timely assistance to people suffering and struggling to overcome the pandemic.

What is undeniably clear is that this outbreak, which caught us by surprise, proves once again in a no less than tragic way that all mankind lives in a community with a shared future. No country is immune from the outbreak. Only through unity and cooperation can we overcome the difficulties together.

In the face of the pandemic, to help others is to help yourself. The Chinese people will never forget that the international community gave us valuable support and assistance during the most difficult period of China’s fight against COVID-19. The Chinese nation is grateful and always reciprocates other’s kindness. The Chinese government and people have made arduous efforts and great sacrifices. At present, the situation at home is trending steadily towards a positive direction. While guarding the domestic defense against the pandemic, we are also doing our best to provide assistance to other countries in need. What we want to do, what we are going to do and what we have done is to do our very best to help countries and people in need, and work with the international community to save lives and safeguard public health.

After the outbreak, relevant Chinese enterprises returned to work, expanded their production capacity, and worked around the clock to produce medical protection supplies, thus providing a solid logistical support for China’s fight against the pandemic. Although the situation in China is getting better and more stable, they are still working overtime day and night to help other countries in urgent need of them to fight the pandemic. This is China fulfilling its role as a responsible major country and the Chinese people making kind and selfless contribution to the global response. I believe that such efforts are worthy of respect, not disparagement.

We hope the relevant country can view objectively China’s participation in international cooperation and its assistance to other countries amid the pandemic, and contribute in words and actions to the international response.

China Daily: A couple of countries say the quick coronavirus test kits supplied by China are faulty and have produced inaccurate test results. What’s your comment?

Hua Chunying: Many countries have recently been purchasing medical products in China. While satisfying domestic demands, we support export by companies with qualifications and credibility, and provide convenience in production, transport and customs clearance to facilitate foreign procurement and orderly exporting. Some countries raised purchasing demands via diplomatic channels, and we recommend qualified companies to the foreign buyers. As far as I know, we haven’t received any complaints from the buyers about the products purchased via the above-mentioned channel.

Several countries raised doubts on the quality of products imported from China, to which our embassies responded at the earliest time possible.

For example, some Slovak officials questioned the reliability of the quick coronavirus test kits purchased from China. The Chinese embassy in Slovakia immediately contacted the manufacturer in China. They came to the preliminary conclusion that Slovak medical workers used these antigen test kits incorrectly with a preceding method applicable to nucleic acid testing, which led to the inaccurate results. Our embassy in Slovakia then issued a reminder on the correct use of different testing methods. Slovak foreign ministry thanked China for its help at a difficult time, appreciated China’s assistance in exporting medical supplies to Slovakia, and expressed readiness to enhance cooperation and experience-sharing with China.

Also, in response to Philippine health official’s remarks on the accuracy of China-provided aid of testing reagents, the health department made clarifications the other day that the test kits produce identical results with those provided by WHO, and that these quality products play an important role in the government’s rapid response. It also expressed apology for the misunderstanding caused by relevant comments.

About the masks that the Netherlands claimed not meeting quality standards, after immediate contact and verification by the Chinese embassy, on the afternoon of March 29, Dutch officials told us that some of the masks purchased by Dutch agency companies are not suitable for medical workers in intensive care units, and the health department is consulting professionals to make sure whether these masks can be used by medical staff with less intensive protection requirements. The Dutch side thanked China for our support and help in its purchase and transport of Chinese medical supplies.

Indeed, many countries expressed their need to purchase medical products from China. A large number of Chinese manufacturers are working around the clock to help other countries save lives. Our sincerity and assistance is real. If problems occur in this process, the Chinese side will talk to relevant departments. Problems should be properly solved based on facts, not political interpretations. In fact, when we first began fighting COVID-19 at home, some of the assistance China received was defective, but we chose to believe and respect the kind intentions of these countries.

China Review News: Some officials in a handful of countries including the US have been trying to blame China for the pandemic outbreak, accusing China of covering up the actual caseload of the infected and disseminating disinformation on COVID-19. They also said that they will reckon with China after the pandemic passes. What is your response?

Hua Chunying: At present, COVID-19 is ravaging across the world, especially in Europe and the US. People of all countries have called for unity to fight the pandemic, but still some people have made jarring noises from time to time, quite discordant with the current atmosphere of unity against the pandemic. I want to stress a few points.

As the coronavirus is novel virus unseen in the past, its detection, research, testing and confirmation naturally requires time. According to reports, on December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian, director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care at Hubei Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, reported the first three suspected cases. On December 29, Hubei and Wuhan health committees instructed related centers for disease control and prevention and hospitals to carry out epidemiological investigation. On December 30 Wuhan Municipal Health Committee issued an “urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause”. On December 31, the NHC sent an expert group to Wuhan to investigate on site. On January 3, 2020, China started to send timely updates to WHO and other countries, including the US. On January 11, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention put online five whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus and shared data with the world and WHO. On January 23, Wuhan was put under lockdown and unprecedented comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures were taken. The Chinese government took decisive and strong measures at the earliest time possible and the Chinese people have been united as one in this fight against the pandemic, which ensured the life, safety and health of the Chinese people to the highest extent.

WHO estimates that the decisive, effective and timely measures taken by the Chinese government prevented the infection of tens of thousands of people. Many countries also think China’s practice offers explicable precedence. Our open, transparent and responsible attitude has been highly acclaimed by the international community.

We have no intention to judge other countries’ response to the pandemic. But while China set an example and bought precious time for the world with huge efforts and sacrifice, as WHO, foreign leaders, experts and media say, did a certain country make full use of the time to enhance preparedness? I think its government knows that very well, and its people can feel it too.

Since January 3 China has been notifying the US of epidemic-related information on a regular basis. On January 7, the US CDC and its embassy in China issued warnings on traveling to Wuhan. On January 25, the US announced the decision to close its consulate in Wuhan and withdraw all staff. On February 2, the US government banned entry of all Chinese nationals and foreigners who had been to China in the past 14 days. Now so many days have passed, and some in the US still claim China should be held responsible for the COVID-19 in the US. Don’t they feel guilty or ashamed? They are trying to shift the biggest blame of the century to China and make it the biggest scapegoat. However, such an attempt is just impossible as the blame is too heavy to be shifted. Sorry, it won’t work.

The pandemic is in some way like a magical mirror that exposes a person’s morality and character to the fullest extent. The virus knows no ideology, border or race. The destinies of all countries are closely intertwined. No one can make up for lost time by slandering others or shifting the blame. The only way to defeat the virus is through solidarity and cooperation.

At the G20 virtual summit last week, President Xi put forward propositions on overcoming the difficulties hand in hand. Upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China would like to share our experience on COVID-19, conduct international cooperation, and provide as much help as we can to countries in need. That is what we say and what we do. We hope certain individuals will, like the CPC and the Chinese government, put people’s life, health and safety first, abandon political bias and arrogance, and focus on international cooperation in pandemic response.

CCTV: In a recent interview, White House trade adviser Navarro accused China of a cover-up that has set the world back six weeks, saying China saw human-to-human transmission cases as early as mid-December. I wonder if you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: The lies told by this US politician are not worth refuting. I noticed that during that interview, even the host interrupted him several times and pointed out he was wasting everybody’s time.

What is the truth? The truth is, since the epidemic broke out, we have always been open, transparent and responsible. We notified WHO and the international community of related information in a timely manner, shared genome sequencing findings of the virus at the earliest time possible, responded to other countries’ concerns, conducted international cooperation and provided help to others. The sacrifice made by the Chinese people has bought valuable time for global anti-epidemic response.

Since the beginning of January, China has been sending regular updates to WHO and other countries, the US included. How can the US politician allege that China’s delay set the world back six weeks? What is his intention? He just wanted to muddy the water, shift the blame and undermine China-US cooperation as well as global cooperation in fighting COVID-19. No one with a sense of justice will fall for his words.

We advise Mr. Navarro to try and grasp the gist of the phone call between Chinese and US presidents on March 27. He should stop smearing China and undermining China-US relations, and work to advance rather than harm the two peoples’ interests.

Beijing Daily: The US State Department Spokesperson said yesterday that Secretary Pompeo spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and discussed the importance of countering efforts by China to spread disinformation and propaganda related to the virus. I wonder if you have a comment?

Hua Chunying: Since the epidemic broke out, China, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, has been providing timely updates to WHO and countries around the world including the US. We have also been doing our best to provide support and assistance to countries in need. All this has been widely applauded by the international community. Some US officials are accusing China of disinformation campaigns, I wonder if they could point out what information is not true? Were they referring to the effective containment China has achieved, or the assistance it has provided to other countries?

As to how the US has been dealing with this crisis, there has been abundant media coverage in the US and the American people have seen it with their own eyes. The Chinese people are following with concern the development of the situation and sincerely hope the US will overcome the epidemic as soon as possible to safeguard American people’s health and safety.

After the outbreak, China has been racing against time to fight the virus and contain its spread. Even as we speak, many Chinese businesses are working around the clock to produce medical supplies and reinforce other countries’ combat. We don’t have the interest or the time to launch any despicable “disinformation campaign”.

President Xi Jinping, upon invitation, held a telephone conversation with President Trump last Friday. The two heads of state agreed that under current circumstances, China and the US should stand united and fight COVID-19. The remarks you mentioned clearly run counter to the consensus of the two leaders. We hope they will focus on containing the spread of the virus at home and contribute to China-US cooperation in responding to the pandemic.