BEIJING: China accused the United States on Thursday of trying to shift blame over the coronavirus after US President Donald Trump said the pandemic was a worse “attack” than Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
Tension between the world’s two biggest economies has reached fever pitch in recent days as they have exchanged barbed comments on each other’s handling of the virus.
“We urge the US side to stop shifting the blame to China and turn to facts,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a press briefing.
On Wednesday, Trump drew analogies with the virus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year, and infamous military and terrorist attacks on the US.
“This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had,” Trump told reporters. “This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center.”
The Japanese assault on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii drew the United States into World War II.
The September 11, 2001 militants attacks on that killed about 3,000 people and triggered two decades of war.
Trump said the coronavirus pandemic “should never have happened”.
“Could have been stopped at the source. Could have been stopped in China,” he said.
Hua responded: “They might say the pandemic is comparable to Pearl Harbor or 9/11, but the enemy facing the US is the novel coronavirus”.
She said Washington should “fight side-by-side” with Beijing instead of as “enemies”.
Hua added that “lots of foreign countries, experts and scientists have all made positive comments on China’s effective virus prevention and control.”
“But the US alone has made some very disharmonious, untruthful and insincere remarks,” said Hua.
The coronavirus, which first emerged in central China late last year, has now killed more than 73,000 people in the US.