A senior Chinese official acknowledged on Friday that the new coronavirus is a deep challenge to the country, but defended Beijing’s management of the epidemic while lashing out at the “overreaction” of other countries.
In a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in the German capital, State Councillor Wang Yi, who also serves as China’s foreign minister, urged the United States not to take unnecessary virus-response measures that could hamper trade, travel and tourism.
“The epidemic overall is under control,” he said. “This epidemic is truly sudden. It has brought a challenge to China and the world.”
“We’ve taken such complete prevention and control efforts, efforts that are so comprehensive, that I can’t see any other country that can do this,” Wang said, adding that any leader in another country would find the challenge very difficult.
“But China has been able to do this.”
The virus, coming on the back of a disruptive trade war between the United States and China, has again exposed underlying tensions on multiple fronts between the world’s two biggest economies.
It has also posed one of the toughest challenges for President Xi Jinping since he assumed power in 2013.
During the roughly 90-minute interview, on topics ranging from the coronavirus to Hong Kong, and the Middle East, Wang repeatedly pinned blame on Washington.
Beijing has criticized the United States in particular for taking drastic measures on coronavirus, which have included travel curbs on visitors from China. The United States was the first to announce it was evacuating citizens from Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the virus outbreak.
“Some countries have stepped up measures, including quarantine measures, which are reasonable and understandable, but for some countries they have overreacted, which has triggered unnecessary panic,” he said.
“I’m sure that those countries are reflecting on this as the situation evolves and the epidemic is gradually brought under further control,” he said. “They will gradually release such restrictions. Because at the end of the day, these countries need to interact with China.”
The U.S. State Department and Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while the White House declined to comment.