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China says U.S. making baseless claims after Trump tweet

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday U.S. officials stigmatize China when characterizing the new strain of coronavirus as Chinese. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday U.S. officials stigmatize China when characterizing the new strain of coronavirus as "Chinese." File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

March 17 (UPI) -- China says the United States needs to cease directing "unwarranted accusations" at China, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump described the new strain of coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus" on Twitter.

Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday at a regular press briefing the Chinese government disapproves of U.S. characterization of the pandemic as Chinese in origin.

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"Some U.S. political figures have recently been connecting the coronavirus with China," Geng said. "We express strong indignation and objection to such stigmatization."

The Chinese spokesman said describing the coronavirus as Chinese violates principles set forth by international agencies.

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"The World Health Organization and the international community oppose intentional linkage of the virus and specific countries or regions, which is a form of stigmatization," Geng said.

"We urge the United States to immediately correct its mistake and stop making unwarranted accusations on China."

Geng also suggested on Tuesday the United States was not responding effectively to the outbreak.

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"As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and worsens all over the world, the urgent task for the international community is to respond with aggressive and concerted efforts," he said.

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"The United States should get its domestic issues handled first."

Tensions have been brewing between the two countries since early March when China began to suggest the coronavirus may have been imported from elsewhere.

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The claims later evolved into accusations against the U.S. military. On Monday, during a phone call with Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Communist Party, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo conveyed "strong objections" to Chinese efforts to "shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States."

"The secretary stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors," the State Department said.

Trump reiterated his characterization of the outbreak as Chinese again Tuesday morning, despite criticism from Democrats, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said Trump is "fueling more bigotry" against Asian Americans.

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