Based on information from German intelligence agencies, reports indicate that Chinese Leader Xi Jinping personally asked the World Health Organization to delay the release of critical information regarding its coronavirus outbreak.

The Jan. 21 conversation between Jinping and WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was reported in Der Spiegel, which cited intelligence from Germany’s federal intelligence service, known as the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

The report published over the weekend said Xi urged the WHO chief to “delay a global warning” about the pandemic and hold back information on human-to-human transmission of the virus.

The BND estimated that China’s action to conceal information resulted in a loss of four to six weeks in the fight against COVID-19.

The World Health Organization vigorously denies these reports.

“Der Spiegel reports of a January 21, 2020, telephone conversation between Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and President Xi Jingping of China are unfounded and untrue,” said the WHO in a statement on Saturday. ”

Dr Tedros and President Xi did not speak on Jan. 21, and they have never spoken by phone. Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The US appears to be unmoved by WHO denials. Back at the United Nations, the US and China are arguing about a new agreement related to a “global ceasefire” so the world can focus on pandemic response. Part of that disagreement stems from the inclusion of WHO in that document.

China and the United States both supported a draft United Nations Security Council resolution confronting the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday and it was “shocking and regretful” that Washington changed its mind on Friday, a Chinese diplomat said.

A U.S. diplomat refuted the Chinese comment, saying there was no U.S. agreement on the text.

For more than six weeks the 15-member council has been trying to agree on a text that ultimately aims to back a March 23 call by U.N. chief Antonio Guterres for a ceasefire in global conflicts so the world can focus on the pandemic.

But talks have been stymied by a stand-off between China and the United States over whether to mention the World Health Organization. The United States does not want a reference, China has insisted it be included, while some other members see the mention – or not – of WHO as a marginal issue, diplomats said.

There may be more to this diplomatic dispute than meets the eyes. Beijing seems to be exploiting the health crisis it created to assert control of the South China Sea. The US has just sent three warships in response.

China has taken advantage of the world’s struggle with Covid-19 to mount a disturbing display of military firepower and push its illegal claims to land and oilfields in a two-million-square-mile area in the South China Sea.

The moves have triggered an immediate response from US President Donald Trump.

Deeply worried about Beijing’s insatiable desire for land and the way its military has occupied areas by stealth, Washington has sent three warships to the region.

China’s escalation of war games in the region follows decades of aggression by the Communist government.

It is ignoring international law as it militarises islands and reefs, plans to exploit oil and mineral fields, and hopes to build nuclear reactors in the area.

No wonder experts fear the South China Sea is where a war involving China, the United States and Russia could begin. China’s defence minister, General Wei Fenghe, has said his country would ‘fight at all costs’ if a war occurred with America.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are reporting the beginning of a new wave of coronavirus cases in northeast China, about 700 miles away from Beijing.

Jilin officials raised the risk level of the city of Shulan to high from medium, having hoisted it to medium from low just the day before after one woman tested positive on May 7.

Eleven new cases in Shulan were confirmed on May 9, all of them members of her family or people who came into contact with her or family members.

Shulan has increased virus-control measures, including a lockdown of residential compounds, a ban on non-essential transportation and school closures, the Jilin government said.

The new cases pushed the overall number of new confirmed cases in mainland China on May 9 to 14, according to the National Health Commission on Sunday, the highest number since April 28.

Among them was the first case for more than a month in the city of Wuhan in central Hubei province where the outbreak was first detected late last year.

 

 
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