Coronavirus outbreak

US, China in war of words over virus' origin

Beijing official suggests infection began with US army visit, as Trump highlights China link

A hospital ward being cleaned in Wuhan on Thursday. With the outbreak in China appearing to be getting under control as the US struggles with its response, Beijing is pushing the narrative that it has claimed victory over the virus.
A hospital ward being cleaned in Wuhan on Thursday. With the outbreak in China appearing to be getting under control as the US struggles with its response, Beijing is pushing the narrative that it has claimed victory over the virus.PHOTO: REUTERS

Amid a global coronavirus pandemic, January's uneasy truce between the world's two largest economies has given way to a war of words across a variety of platforms. China watchers see the escalating diplomatic overtures, including the expulsion of journalists, as attempts to distract from domestic troubles, predicting more to come.

The latest scuffle centres on the origin of the virus, with one Beijing official suggesting it could have originated from US troops visiting China even as members of the Trump administration persist in calling it the "Wuhan virus".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2020, with the headline 'US, China in war of words over virus' origin Coronavirus outbreak'. Subscribe