Beijing on Friday sharply criticised the United States for warning American citizens to avoid China and for urging those already there to leave due to the coronavirus health emergency.
“Certain US officials’ words and actions are neither factual nor appropriate,” China’s foreign affairs ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
“Just as the WHO recommended against travel restrictions, the US rushed to go in the opposite way. Certainly not a gesture of goodwill.”
The US State Department has raised its warning alert to the highest level, telling Americans to avoid China.
The first case of person-to-person transmission of the virus on American soil was confirmed Thursday — a man in Chicago who caught it from his wife, who had travelled to Wuhan.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was also criticised for saying the virus, which has killed 213 people in China, could help “accelerate the return of jobs” to America.
Ross said the virus was “very unfortunate” but that it was also a “risk factor” for businesses to consider when weighing whether to operate in China.
Separately, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to London, this week angered Beijing by calling China’s ruling Communist Party “the central threat of our times”.