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Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for greater cooperation with Europe on the response to the pandemic. Photo: Xinhua

China seeks united coronavirus front with Europe amid blame game with US

  • In calls with the leaders of France and Britain, Xi Jinping urges stronger cooperation in response to the pandemic
  • Countries should maintain safe and open global supply chains and work together to ensure economic growth, Xi says
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a united front with European countries to combat the coronavirus, as Beijing and Washington trade accusations over poor handling of the pandemic.
In phone calls with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, Xi said the virus was spreading regardless of ethnicity and borders, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Xi told Johnson that China and Britain should work together to minimise the spread of the virus while keeping channels open for trade and essential personnel.

“The whole human race should join efforts to combat the virus,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

“China is willing to provide help and assistance to Britain.”

He also called for more exchanges of information, scientific research, and experience in combating the disease.

Nations should ensure an “open, stable and safe” global supply chain and strengthen their coordination on macroeconomic policies to stabilise the global market and ensure economic growth for people to maintain their livelihood, he said.

The calls are the latest in a flurry between Chinese and European leaders over the past few days. On Saturday, Xi held separate phone talks on the crisis with Macron, and the leaders of Germany, Spain and Serbia. China has also sent medical supplies and specialists to Italy, Spain and Serbia.

China’s engagement with Europe comes as its relations with the United States have plunged to a new low amid bickering over the origin of the virus and restrictions on news outlets.

China has objected to US President Donald Trump’s repeated references to the “Chinese virus”, comments that critics say have incited racism and discrimination.

US officials have also accused China of covering up the outbreak and lacking transparency, accusations rejected by Beijing, which in turn has hit out at Washington for dragging its feet in responding to the pandemic.

During the call with Macron on Monday, Xi said China and France should strengthen cooperation on border management, public health and scientific research as well as help for African countries to combat the disease.

Xi also called for all nations to support the World Health Organisation.

“China is willing to work with France to promote relevant parties to strengthen coordination and cooperation under the framework of the United Nations and the Group of 20 to carry out joint prevention and control, improve global health governance, and help developing countries,” he said.

Macron and Xi agreed that the G20 should hold a summit to coordinate the world’s economic and public health response to the coronavirus, Macron’s office said.

The summit could be held via videoconference “rapidly” and would need to involve the WHO as well to work jointly on vaccines and treatments, a French presidential official said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: xi seeks united front with europe on pandemic amid blame game with america
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