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China’s EU ambassador defends coronavirus response

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Ming on Tuesday defended the country’s response to the novel coronavirus and advised other countries to react in an “objective and cool-headed way.”

‘It is unfair to conclude the Chinese government is not transparent,” Zhang told reporters at a briefing in Brussels.

He stressed that Beijing informed the World Health Organization and the international community of the new virus as soon as it was identified. And he chastized countries like the United States that have implemented travel or trade restrictions with his country.

“Such restrictions would aid panic and disrupt the containment efforts,” said Zhang. Most countries, including most EU member countries, have followed the WHO’s advice, but “unfortunately, some developed countries which have advanced capabilities have taken the lead on adopting excessive restrictions on China to the contrary of WHO recommendations.”

“It is our hope that the relevant countries can look at the epidemic and China’s response in an objective and cool-headed way,” he said.

Italy and the Czech Republic are the only EU members to have stopped flights to and from China, although Zhang did not name them.

When asked about possible drug shortages in the EU, he said Beijing would prioritize restarting manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients that are precursors for drug production.

“Pharmaceuticals concern people’s health and life, so it will be a sector that will come first,” Zhang said.

He added that nearly 80 percent of production capacity for facial masks and protection suits in key areas has resumed.

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