German journalist bristles at Chinese Embassy's open letter over story
Bild editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt slammed China's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in a video released on his personal social media channels.
Screengrab / Julian Reichelt on Facebook

German journalist bristles at Chinese Embassy's open letter over story

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - April 20, 2020 - 6:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — The editor of a prominent German newspaper slammed Chinese President Xi Jinping after the Chinese Embassy in Berlin penned an open letter criticizing the former's reportage of the global novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

In a video responding to this letter posted to his personal Facebook page, Bild editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt hit Beijing's response to the pandemic and highlighted the Communist Party of China's role in cracking down on early reports of the new pathogen. 

This came after the publication ran a story titled, "What China owes us," which included an itemized invoice of damages that they said Beijing is liable for.

In total, the invoice's items amounted to €149 billion in supposed damages to Germany's economy. 

"When you, your government and your scientists had to know long ago that corona is transmitted from person to person, you left the world in the dark. Your top experts did not answer the phone, did not answer an email when western researchers wanted to know what was going on in Wuhan," Reichelt said. 

Globally, there are 2,414,617 cases of COVID-19, with 165,174 deaths linked to the virus, according to Worldometers. 

'You're endangering the rest of the world'

While Beijing has claimed victory against the new pathogen, the international community has cast doubt on its transparency in its handling of the situation, with some implying that China intentionally reported doctored numbers in order to cover up its actual progress, or lack thereof. 

READ: U.S. casts doubt on 'intentionally incomplete' Chinese coronavirus figures | Philippines early to adopt travel ban, lockdown but not first to do so

"China‘s embassy in Berlin wrote me an open letter because they weren‘t too happy with our Corona coverage. I responded," he tweeted. 

"You monitor every citizen, but you refuse to monitor the diseased wet markets in your country. You're not only monitoring your people, you're endangering them, and with them, the rest of the world. Surveillance is a denial of freedom," he said in his video. 

"Any critical newspaper or website will shut you down, but not the stalls selling bat soup."

"In your country, people are whispering about you. Your power is crumbling," he added. 

"You have created an opaque, opaque China that once stood for an inhuman surveillance state and now stands for the spread of a deadly plague. This is your political legacy."

In a separate article entitled "They endanger the whole world," Reichelt said that the embassy called the publication's earlier work "infamous [and] fueling nationalism."

After rumblings of Beijing's alleged cover-ups came to light, the hashtag #ChinaLiedPeopleDied trended on social media. 

'BFF of the Philippines'

Closer to home, though, the response to China has been very different. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has made it a point to heap praises on China's president, both for providing assistance to the Philippines, and for his supposedly decisive response to the new pathogen when the outbreak first began in China's Hubei province.

Duterte has yet to comment on new reports of China building structures in the West Philippine Sea, choosing to instead focus on aid received from the regional giant. 

FULL TEXT: Duterte's April 13 talk to the people on COVID-19 pandemic | With world busy fighting coronavirus, China quietly builds installations on Philippine-claimed reefs

The Palace said last week that it hopes China will prioritize the Philippines should it discover a cure for the virus, owing to the two countries' status as "BFFs" or "Best Friends Forever".

At the onset of the outbreak, Duterte was apprehensive about implementing a travel ban on China, calling the idea xenophobic. During his most recent public addresses, though, the chief executive has constantly asserted that the government acted early to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Duterte can address COVID-19 without spreading China propaganda, De Lima says

The Department of Health on Monday afternoon recorded 200 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the national total to 6,459.

In his message to Xi, Reichelt wrote: "Your message tells me that I would not do justice to the "traditional friendship of our peoples". I assume you consider it a great "friendship" if you now generously send masks around the world. I do not call this friendship, but smiling imperialism." — Video by Efigenio Toledo IV

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