Boris Johnson has drawn Beijingís ire by appearing to link the countryís culture to the Covid-19 outbreak
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has touched off a diplomatic row with China after blaming the countryís cultural and eating habits for the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson told an environmental summit on Monday (January 11) that the origin of Covid-19 could be traced to "the product of an imbalance in manís relationship with the natural world".
Drawing on his expertise on classics, the PM proclaimed: "Like the original plague which struck the Greeks I seem to remember in book one of the Iliad, it is a zoonotic disease".
"It originates from bats or pangolins, from the demented belief that if you grind up the scales of a pangolin you will somehow become more potent or whatever it is people believe, it originates from this collision between mankind and the natural world and weíve got to stop it", Johnson said in a condescending tone.
The PMís blatant attempt to link aspects of Chinese culture to the onset of the pandemic has drawn a sharp response from Beijing.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, accused Johnson of indulging in "groundless conjecture" which will only serve to "disrupt normal international co-operation on origin-tracing".
Lijia added that "careful and meticulous" studies were needed to discover the origin of the coronavirus outbreak.
The latest diplomatic row comes in the wake of a sharp rise in Sino-British tensions following the foreign secretaryís strong criticism of Chinaís alleged mistreatment of the Uighur minority in Xinxiang.
Addressing the House of Commons on Tuesday (January 12), Raab claimed there is "clear evidence" of "internment camps, forced labor, arbitrary detention, political re-education and forced sterilization, all on an industrial scale" in Xinxiang.
Raab, however, did not furnish this "evidence" to MPs and instead went on to set out new and largely symbolic anti-Chinese measures.