GERMANY’S largest tabloid newspaper Bild has sparked outrage in China after it published a story invoicing the Chinese for €149bn saying this is the amount Beijing owes Berlin in lost revenue as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Covid-19 first broke out in China in November last year, starting off as a localised virus in Wuhan province but has since rapidly across the world. Virtually every country has suffered economically as a result of the industrial shutdown, disruption of commerce and having to keep its population at home.
Of late, several countries like the US, France and UK have blamed China for the economic hardship the virus has caused. Over the weekend, Germany joined their ranks with The Bild drawing up an itemised invoice for €149bn, to the chagrin of the Chinese authorities who claimed the invoice stirs up xenophobia and nationalism.
Germany’s list includes a €27bn charge for lost tourism revenue, up to €7.2bn for the German film industry, €1m an hour for German airline Lufthansa and €50bn for German small businesses. Bild calculated that this amounts to €1,784 per person if Germany’s gross domestic product (GDP) falls by 4.2%, under the title What China owes us.
On Saturday, US President Donald Trump warned that China should face consequences if it was knowingly responsible for unleashing the coronavirus pandemic. He and his senior aides have repeatedly accused China of lacking transparency, adding that the question was whether what happened with the coronavirus was a mistake that got out of control, or was it done deliberately.
President Trump said: “It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t and the whole world is suffering because of it. If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake but if they were knowingly responsible, then there should be consequences.”
This week the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started, revised its number of fatalities with a sudden 50% jump in the figure. Already, the UK has joined US intelligence officials in investigating claims that the virus originated in a Wuhan virus laboratory and not a wet market.