China said Sunday that relations with the United States were “on the brink of a new Cold War”, fuelled in part by tensions over the coronavirus pandemic, as Muslims around the world celebrated a muted end to the holy month of Ramadan.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington had been infected by a “political virus” compelling figures there to continually attack China, but offered an olive branch by saying the country would be open to an international effort to find the coronavirus source.
“It has come to our attention that some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War,” he told reporters during a press conference at China’s week-long annual parliament session.
He spoke as more nations eased lockdown restrictions in a bid to salvage economies and lifestyles that have been savaged by the pandemic.
Globally about 342,000 people have been killed, and more than 5.3 million people infected by the virus, which most scientists believe jumped from animals to humans — possibly at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
The issue has become highly politicised, with US President Donald Trump accusing Beijing of a lack of transparency, and pushing the theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese maximum-security laboratory.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday blasted what he called efforts by US politicians to “fabricate rumours” about the virus origin and “stigmatise China”.
“China is open to working with the international scientific community to look into the source of the virus,” he said.
“At the same time, we believe that this should be professional, fair and constructive.”