China raised the specter of escalated tensions with the U.S. over the weekend amid friction over the coronavirus pandemic, warning that the U.S. is pushing the relationship between the world’s two largest economies “to the brink of a new Cold War.”
“It has come to our attention that some political forces in the U.S. are taking China-U.S. relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a ‘new Cold War,’” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday during a news conference.
“This dangerous attempt to turn back the wheel of history will undo the fruits of decades-long China-US cooperation, dampen America’s own development prospects, and put world stability and prosperity in jeopardy. People with wisdom and foresight on both sides must step forward to stop it,” the foreign minister continued.
The Trump administration has blamed China for the global spread of the coronavirus, accusing the communist country of withholding vital information and of failing to control the spread beyond its borders in the early days of the outbreak.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month doubled down on his previous criticism of Beijing’s response, saying the U.S. “strongly believed” China flouted World Health Organization rules by neglecting to report on the outbreak in a “timely fashion,” and did not report on the community spread of the virus “for a month until it was in every province inside of China.”
Even after the Chinese Communist Party eventually reported the outbreak to the WHO, China did not share all the information it had on the virus, Pompeo said, but instead covered up the danger the disease posed, censored those who tried to warn the rest of the world, and halted the testing of new samples while destroying existing samples.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report last month that China deliberately provided incomplete public numbers for coronavirus cases and deaths resulting from the infection.
China meanwhile has claimed it is a “victim” of disinformation surrounding the pandemic and accusing the U.S. of “hiding something.”
The U.S. signed a phase one trade deal with China in January. Continuing trade negotiations have been threatened as the two countries trade barbs over the pandemic.