Coronavirus: China owes Germany $162 bn in damages, Bild says, angering Beijing

A German tabloid estimated that China owes Germany billions in coronavirus damages, prompting a war of words between the Chinese government and its editor.

A scene in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and China’s epicentre of the novel coronavirus disease, on April 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)


  • Germany’s Bild newspaper says China owes billions
  • Indignant China says article stirs up ‘xenophobia’
  • Editor writes angry letter to Chinese leader Xi

Germany’s Bild newspaper calculated last week that China owes Berlin around $162 billion in coronavirus damages, prompting a angry response from Beijing, news reports said.

The tabloid’s estimate of damages — over $1,938 per capita if Germany’s GDP falls by 4.2 per cent — was presented in an article headlined, “What China Owes Us.”

The Chinese government and Bild’s top editor, Julian Reichelt, have since exchanged angry messages, according to the Jerusalem Post.

For the Chinese embassy, the Bild story “stirs up xenophobia and nationalism”.

It is “pretty bad style to blame a country for a pandemic that is affecting the whole world and then to present an explicit account of alleged Chinese debts to Germany”, said a spokesperson for the embassy.

Reichelt, in turn, attacked Chinese President Xi Jinping directly, excoriating him over issues ranging from China’s initial handling of the pandemic to surveillance and rights, the Post said.

There has, in fact, been a chorus of concern over the manner in which Beijing tackled the virus, which first emerged in Wuhan city, the capital of Hubei province.

US President Donald Trump, for example, has said China should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the pandemic.

Known as SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus has caused nearly 2.4 million infections and more than 160,000 deaths worldwide, paralysing life and business in major cities.

Inputs from Reuters has plenty of useful resources that can help you better understand the coronavirus pandemic and protect yourself. Read our comprehensive guide (with information on how the virus spreads, precautions and symptoms), watch an expert debunk myths, check out our data analysis of cases in India, and access our dedicated coronavirus page.

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