China brands UK government's coronavirus response a 'mess'

14 May 2020, 22:28

File photo from 2009 showing a news vendor displaying the Global Times on her stand
File photo from 2009 showing a news vendor displaying the Global Times on her stand. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A state-run Chinese newspaper has said Britain "needs a miracle" to beat coronavirus after branding the UK government's response a "mess".

Beijing's state-controlled Global Times criticised Boris Johnson for urging people to get back to work before a track-and-tracing system is established.

The paper, which is seen as a propaganda outlet for China's Communist Party, described the prime minister's actions as "flippant" and "ill-prepared".

It argued that Mr Johnson has put the economy ahead of beating and controlling Covid-19.

"It is startling to see the UK, once on which the sun never set, acting poorly in this global fight against the deadly coronavirus," the article read.

Its author then went on to condemn Britain for initially considering "herd immunity" which "wasted a few weeks' time when China fought hard against the virus."

Flags at Tiananmen Square lowered to half-mast to mourn medical staff and citizens lost to coronavirus
Flags at Tiananmen Square lowered to half-mast to mourn medical staff and citizens lost to coronavirus. Picture: PA

Mr Johnson's exit strategy was attacked for not setting up a contact-tracing system quickly enough, despite the UK government trialling an app on the Isle of Wight in a three-part plan to prevent a second wave.

The Global Times piece also claimed Britain had been wasteful and the government had misplaced resources.

"The UK is not supposed to end up like this," it read.

"After all, it is where the Industrial Revolution started. It has abundant capital and medical resources.

"To put it in Chinese proverbs, it didn't play well despite having good cards in hand."

The newspaper has often been found to defend its own government's actions and is known to regularly denounce the West.

Official figures show that China has recorded 4,633 deaths and 82,929 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

However, politicians across the world have questioned the data coming from Beijing given that the pandemic is believed to have begun in Wuhan, where a number of new cases have been reported.

The country was removed from the UK's global deaths comparison rates, that used to be published every day during the government's daily press briefings, amid speculation about China covering up the true impact of the disease.

It comes as the UK leader began the gradual reopening of the economy this week, after telling people on Sunday to return to work if they could not do so from home.

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On Wednesday, pictures and videos emerged of commuters packed on tubes and bus services in London following the slight easing of lockdown measures.

The Chinese newspaper also cited a piece in the Guardian on Sunday in which a columnist called Britain "the sick man of Europe."

On Thursday, the UK confirmed a further 428 deaths related to coronavirus, bringing the country's total to 33,614.

It is now the second-worst hit country in the world, behind the US, and the most affected in Europe, ahead of Italy and Spain.

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