Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat accuses ‘tyrannical’ China of ‘falsifying’ coronavirus death statistics as Beijing hits back at ‘dangerous unwarranted accusations’
- Tom Tugendhat said Chinese government ‘deliberately falsified the data’ on virus
- He claimed ‘survival of the regime’ was placed ‘over the interests of the people’
- But Beijing hit back and said such ‘unwarranted accusations’ are ‘dangerous’
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat today accused the Chinese government of ‘tyranny’ and of ‘falsifying’ its coronavirus death toll statistics in comments which prompted a furious response from Beijing.
The Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman claimed the Chinese state had ‘put the survival of the regime over the interests of the people’ during its response to the outbreak.
But Chen Wen, minister and first staff member of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, hit back and said such accusations are ‘dangerous’ and driven by ‘deep-seated bias’ against China.
A number of Tory MPs, including Mr Tugendhat, have demanded an international investigation into the origins of the outbreak in China.
But Ms Chen said Beijing could not accept such a probe because it is ‘politically motivated’.
Downing Street sources have suggested China faces a ‘reckoning’ after the pandemic with some Tory MPs demanding a total reset in relations with Beijing.
Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, today accused China of ‘falsifying’ coronavirus data
Mr Tugendhat told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: ‘We shouldn’t be, at this stage, looking to blame anybody for the outbreak.
‘What we should be looking at is how countries responded. All countries have struggled with data, all countries have struggled with knowing how to respond because this is a new outbreak.
‘But the one thing that really marks out the Chinese communist party is not that they didn’t have sufficient data but that they deliberately falsified the data.
‘This is very different from other countries.’
Mr Tugendhat said his criticism is ‘nothing to do with China as a country, it is all to do with tyranny’.
‘All communist dictatorships share a similar pattern as we saw in the Soviet Union where they put the survival of the regime over the interests of the people,’ he said.
But Ms Chen, who is effectively Beijing’s deputy ambassador in London, told the same programme: ‘I would like to say I cannot agree with a single word of [Mr Tugendhat’s criticism].
‘While as you know since the outbreak of the Covid-19 in China, China has adopted the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous efforts in an open, transparent and responsible way.
‘That is why we have achieved initial success. Let’s say initial success in containing and controlling the virus.’
She said that such ‘unwarranted accusations’ are ‘dangerous’ and likely the product of ‘deep-seated bias against China’.
She called for an end to ‘finger pointing’ at Beijing and for critics to stop trying to ‘blame China for everything’.
Asked directly if China will agree to an international investigation, Ms Chen replied: ‘I cannot agree with that.’
Asked why that was the case, she said: ‘Because the independent inquiry is politically motivated.’