President Xi Jinping tells Trump China spares no effort in coronavirus fight

Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump that Beijing has "spared no effort in fighting the epidemic". PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on Friday (Feb 7) with United States President Donald Trump on the coronavirus outbreak, emphasising that Beijing has "spared no effort in fighting the epidemic", state media reported.

Mr Xi told Mr Trump on the phone that China was "fully confident and capable of defeating the epidemic", and that "the long-term trend of China's economic development for the better will not change", according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Mr Trump "expressed confidence in China's strength and resilience in confronting the challenge of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak," the White House said in a statement.

"The two leaders agreed to continue extensive communication and cooperation between both sides," it said, following reports in Chinese state media that the two had spoken on the phone about the matter.

The viral outbreak, which is believed to have originated in central China late last year, has now infected at least 31,000 people and caused 636 deaths, mostly within China.

Local governments across China have locked down cities of tens of millions of people in response to the crisis, while global panic has risen over the more than 240 cases that have emerged in two dozen countries and territories.

Mr Xi called the fight to contain the virus a "people's war" and told Mr Trump that China has implemented "nationwide mobilisation, comprehensive deployment and rapid response" along with "the strictest prevention and control measures" against the virus.

His comments come hours after the death of a whistle-blower doctor who was punished for sharing information about the virus prompted an immense outpouring of public grief and anger over how Chinese authorities have handled the crisis.

He also urged the US to act "reasonably" in response to the outbreak, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Beijing has hit out against strict measures by other countries to contain the spread of the virus, calling travel bans against Chinese arrivals by a growing list of nations "unkind" and going against the advice of the World Health Organisation.

The US has temporarily barred entry to foreigners who have been in China within the past two weeks, joining countries including Italy, Singapore and Mongolia who have announced expansive restrictions on travellers from the virus-hit country.

The US, Japan, Britain, Germany and other nations have also advised their citizens not to travel to China.

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