China warns of ‘countermeasures’ over US virus sanctions threat

Beijing will retaliate if the US Congress passes legislation seeking sanctions against China over the coronavirus pandemic, the spokesman for the country’s parliament said Thursday.

Tensions between the global superpowers have soared in recent weeks as they have traded verbal blows over the disease.

Washington has criticised Beijing for its initial handling of the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before spreading around the world.

US President Donald Trump stepped up the rhetoric on Wednesday by tweeting that China was responsible for “mass Worldwide killing”.

Republican senators proposed legislation last week that would empower Trump to slap sanctions on China if Beijing does not give a “full accounting” for the outbreak.

“We firmly oppose these bills, and will make a firm response and take countermeasures based on the deliberation of these bills,” spokesman Zhang Yesui said at a news conference on the eve of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.

“It is neither responsible nor moral to cover up one’s own problems by blaming others. We will never accept any unwarranted lawsuits and demands for compensation,” Zhang said.

The US state of Missouri has also sued China’s leadership over the coronavirus, seeking damages over what it described as deliberate deception and insufficient action to stop the pandemic. (AFP)