China acts defensive, wants 'better communication' with India over faulty test kits; rejects Australia's inquiry call into COVID-19 origin

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that the India should step up communication after the ICMR found defects in the COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits supplied to India by two Chinese firms

FP Staff April 29, 2020 20:09:44 IST
China acts defensive, wants 'better communication' with India over faulty test kits; rejects Australia's inquiry call into COVID-19 origin

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that India should step up communication after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) found defects in the COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits supplied to by two Chinese firms.

The ICMR had asked states and Union Territories to stop using the test kits procured from the Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics due to inconsistencies in their accuracy. When asked if an investigation will be held into the issue, Geng said that India and China are closely coordinating and cooperating with each other since the coronavirus outbreak surfaced and should “deal properly” with the matter.

China acts defensive wants better communication with India over faulty test kits rejects Australias inquiry call into COVID19 origin

File image of Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. AP

“The two Chinese companies already issued statements. They both stressed that their COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits have the certification from the National Medical Products Administration of China (NMPA), meet the quality standards, and have also been validated and approved by ICMR through National Institute of Virology (NIV),” he added.

India procured around five lakh rapid antibody test kits from the two Chinese firms.

Geng also refuted claims of “economic coercion” made by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, after China’s ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye said that the Chinese public might avoid Australian beef, wine, tourism and universities as a response to its demand for an independent inquiry into the source and spread of coronavirus.

Geng denied the ambassador’s comments amounted to “economic coercion”. “What he said was about the concerns that the Australian side's erroneous words and deeds recently have upset the Chinese people and that they may impact bilateral relations,” he told reporters.

China accounts for 26 percent of Australia’s total trade, worth around $150 billion in 2018-19, and is the biggest single market for Australian exports such as coal, iron ore, wine, beef, tourism and education.

On being asked by a journalist about why China is opposed to an independent inquiry into the pandemic’s source, Geng said that the issue should be studied by scientific professions and not commented on by politicians. He also cast doubts on Australia’s intention behind seeking the inquiry.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson accused US politicians of speaking “barefaced lies”, adding that Washington was attacking China to divert attention from its own handling of the outbreak. "By smearing China to shirk responsibilities, the US politicians cannot erase the progress China has made in the fight against the virus or in any way help to contain COVID-19 in the US," Geng added.

US President Donald Trump suggested on Monday that he might seek damages from China over the outbreak, saying there were many options to "hold them accountable". "We are not happy with that whole situation because we believe it could have been stopped at the source," he said.

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