Could China have done more to prevent the coronavirus pandemic? One newspaper editor in Germany certainly thinks so and an extraordinary bust-up has broken out between the Chinese government and his tabloid as a result. The row kicked off last week when Bild — the best-selling paper in Germany — published an editorial entitled ‘What China owes us’, calling for China to pay reparations of €149 billion) $162 billion for the damage done by the outbreak of the virus.
Later that day, the Chinese embassy in Berlin then responded with an open letter saying ‘we regard the style in which you “campaign” against China in your current report on page two as infamous…those who do the same as you do with today’s Bild newspaper fuel nationalism, prejudice and xenophobia’.
It’s safe to say Bild editor Julian Reichelt didn’t take the criticism lying down. Reichelt has since retaliated with a no-holds-barred response to China’s President Xi Jinping, in which he reads the Chinese leadership the riot act:
‘You shut down every newspaper and website that is critical of your rule, but not the stalls where bat soup is sold. You are not only monitoring your people, you are endangering them — and with them, the rest of the world…China enriches itself with the inventions of others, instead of inventing on its own. The reason China does not innovate and invent is that you don’t let the young people in your country think freely. China’s greatest export hit (that nobody wanted to have, but which has nevertheless gone around the world) is corona.’
Reichelt doesn’t stop there. He goes on to ask:
‘Would you like to explain this to the grieving widows, daughters, sons, husbands, parents of corona victims all over the world?’
He finishes off by saying:
‘Your embassy tells me that I am not living up to the “traditional friendship of our peoples.” I suppose you consider it a great “friendship” when you now generously send masks around the world. This isn’t friendship, I would call it imperialism hidden behind a smile — a Trojan horse.
‘You plan to strengthen China through a plague that you exported. You will not succeed. Corona will be your political end, sooner or later.’
Punchy stuff. Cockburn is looking forward to seeing how China’s ambassador to Berlin responds…
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.