Communist Party Outlet Sees a Hidden Agenda Behind Calls for China to Apologize For Outbreak

By Patrick Goodenough | March 9, 2020 | 4:47am EDT
Paramilitary officers in Beijing on March 1. (Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)
Paramilitary officers in Beijing on March 1. (Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Chinese officials and state media continue to react strongly to a suggestion by an American television host last week that the Chinese government apologize for the novel coronavirus that emerged in that country late last year and is sweeping the globe.

In a weekend editorial People’s Daily, a Communist Party organ, said the remarks – by Fox News’ Jesse Watters, although it did not name him – “exposed nothing but the detestable and ridiculous mindset of certain Americans who call the color black the color white and kick people when they are down.”

The paper insinuated that there was a devious agenda behind such comments, saying, “it’s very possible that the U.S. is hiding something and trying to put the blame on others.”

It said the international community was searching for the origin of the coronavirus.

“Though there are suspects, the final conclusion has not been drawn. Some believe that China is indeed a victim, and a scapegoat, which to some extent, holds water.”

People’s Daily then pointed to comments by a Chinese epidemiologist whose claims at a media briefing late last month that COVID-19 may have come from somewhere other than China have been getting airplay in Chinese media outlets.

“Just as Chinese respiratory scientist Zhong Nanshan stressed – the fact that the virus had an outbreak in China first does not necessarily mean that it originated in the country,” it said.

On Fox News’ “The Five” a week ago, Watters deadpanned, “I’d just like to ask the Chinese for a formal apology. This coronavirus originated in China, and I have not heard one word from the Chinese.”

“A simple ‘I’m sorry’ would do. It would go a long way,” he said. “I expect a formal apology tomorrow. Doesn’t matter if it comes from [President] Xi [Jinping] or the embassy.”

At a press briefing in Beijing several days later, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called Watters’ comments “preposterous and ridiculous.”

“It is unreasonable to demand China to apologize for the coronavirus outbreak,” he said. “So far there’s been no clear conclusion about the origin of the virus.”

“No matter where the virus came from China, like every other country that’s facing the epidemic, is the victim.”

Zhao then pointed a finger at the United States.

“In 2009, the H1N1 flu broke out in the United States, and soon spread to 214 countries and regions, causing at least 18,449 deaths in that year alone,” he said. “Did anyone ask the U.S. for an apology?”

In fact, the H1N1 flu was reported to have emerged in Veracruz state, Mexico, where the first case was identified in a child on April 12 of that year. Five days later, the first cases were identified in the United States, in two children in southern California.

Last month, China’s state television banned a long-time TV presenter from further appearances after he suggested on a social media account that China should apologize to the world for COVID-19.


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