Coronavirus: Spread of COVID-19 variants discussed by expert
The Global Times newspaper, which is linked the Chinese Communist Party government, said the UK was becoming “an isolated island”. It also referred to other media reports in which the UK was branded “the sick man of Europe”.
Tobias Ellwood MP, chairman of the UK Government’s Defence select committee, lashed out at China over the comments.
Speaking to the Sun Online, he accused the nation of having “tried to hide the original outbreak” and added: “Yet here they are criticising us for openly sharing our knowledge about mutations of Covid.”
Mr Ellwood also blamed the CCP for “unleashing” Covid-19, said it should “show more humility”, and referred to the global Covid-19 pandemic as “devastating”.
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It comes after Government figures are involved in an internal struggle over how Britain should approach claims of genocide being carried out in China against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang province.
The Global Times also said the UK was “adrift and alone in the North Atlantic” following international flight bans following concern of a faster-spreading coronavirus strain in Britain.
It added: “This new outbreak caused by a mutant coronavirus might have pushed the country’s international prestige to its lowest level since the British Empire.
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“Its national condition can hardly support its imperialistic mentality and ambitions.”
It comes after China joined a list of dozens of other countries in suspending direct flights to and from the UK.
Wang Wenbin, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman, said: “After much consideration, China has decided to take reference from other countries and suspend flights to and from UK.”
The new strain, officially called VUI-202012/01, was detected in the south east of England last week.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it may be “up to 70 percent” more transmissible than the earlier strains of Covid-19.
The Government’s chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance said the new strain is “becoming the dominant variant”, though there is no evidence it is more deadly than earlier strains.
At the same time as China imposed travel bans on Britain, France reopened its border with the UK, allowing lorries stuck in Kent to cross the border for the first time in days.
Thousands of goods vehicles had to be held near the coast after France shut its border with Britain on Sunday last week. Drivers are now being tested for Covid-19 before being allowed to resume their journeys to the continent.
Meanwhile, UK trade secretary Liz Truss is understood to be backing plans to allow British courts to have a say in whether genocide is occurring in China.
The Foreign Office is opposing the move, claiming the decision should be left with international courts.
The Foreign Office is reportedly due to unveil a new government approach to China in 2021, involving tougher rules on businesses trading in Xinjiang to make sure slavery is not involved in the supply chain.
It comes after claims Uighur Muslims have been held in ‘re-education’ camps in China – something the nation has denied.
A joint statement on ‘the Human Right Situation in Xinjiang’ by 39 UN nations also points to reports of “forced birth control including sterilisation”.
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