China owes Germany $162 billion in 'coronavirus damages': report

Beijing responded by claiming the invoice 'stirs up xenophobia and nationalism'


News Desk April 20, 2020
PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A major German tabloid newspaper stirred controversy when it put together a £130 billion (approx $162 billion) invoice for "coronavirus damages" that Beijing "owed" to Berlin, sparking a backlash from China.

The article was published at a time when the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries are increasing pressure after reports that China had allegedly covered up the true scale of the crisis.

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump warned that China should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for unleashing the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump warns China could face consequences for virus outbreak

"It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it," Trump told reporters. “If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, then there should be consequences."

He said the Chinese were “embarrassed” and the question was whether what happened with the coronavirus was “a mistake that got out of control, or was it done deliberately?”

President Trump and his senior aides have repeatedly accused China of lacking transparency.

Last week, the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started, revised its number of fatalities by with a sudden 50% jump in the figure.

China rejects Australia's questions on its handling of coronavirus

The UK has joined US intelligence officials in investigating claims that the virus originated in a Wuhan virus lab and not a wet market.

The Bild, Germany's largest tabloid newspaper, joined the outrage by drawing up an itemised invoice for €149b (£130b).

The list includes a €27 billion charge for lost tourism revenue, up to €7.2 billion for the German film industry, a million Euros an hour for German airline Lufthansa and €50 billion for German small businesses.

The article calculated that this amounts to €1,784 (£1,550) per person if Germany's GDP falls by 4.2 per cent, under the title "What China owes us".

Later, China responded by claiming the invoice "stirs up xenophobia and nationalism".

The article originally appeared in Bild

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