China will not set an economic growth goal for this year as it deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first time Beijing has not had a gross domestic product (GDP) target since 1990 when records began. The world’s second largest economy shrank by 6.8% in the first quarter from a year ago as lockdowns paralyzed businesses.
China’s ambassador to Israel was found dead at his home early Sunday, Israeli diplomatic sources and police have confirmed to NBC News. Du Wei, was discovered at his apartment in Herzliya, a town just north of Tel Aviv, they said. He was 57 years old. According to the embassy’s website, Du served as an attache to the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. He later served in the Chinese embassy in Estonia.
Schools have reopened in Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 originated, in a sign of China’s increasing confidence that it is over the worst of its outbreak. Around 57,000 high school students with university entrance exams to prepare for returned to class in the central Chinese city today. It has been three weeks since any new deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported in the country where the pandemic began late last year.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory, but did not dispute U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that it was not man-made. “There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week.”
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was confident the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, but declined to describe the evidence, ratcheting up tensions with Beijing over the origins of the deadly outbreak. The Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegations, and other U.S. officials have downplayed their likelihood.
China did not cover up the novel coronavirus outbreak and so the United States should not seek to bully the People’s Republic in a manner reminiscent of the 19th century European colonial wars, the Chinese ambassador to London said on Thursday. “Some other country – their local courts sued China – it is absurd,” he said. “These people still live in the old days – they think they can bully China,” Liu said.
The state of Missouri is suing the Chinese government over the coronavirus, alleging that nation’s officials are to blame for the global pandemic. The lawsuit, filed in federal court by the state’s top lawyer, alleges Chinese officials are “responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians”. It was unclear whether the lawsuit will have much, if any, impact.
China’s economy shrank 6.8% in the three months of 2020, the country’s first such contraction on record and a stark sign of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The news came as Chinese authorities revised the death toll in Wuhan, the hardest hit city and where the virus first emerged, up by 50%, to 3,869 from 2,579. Citing the number of patients who had died at home before reaching hospital, as well as late and inaccurate reporting.
The Chinese government has signaled an end to the human consumption of dogs. Citing the “progress of human civilization” as well as growing public concern over animal welfare and prevention of disease transmission from animals to humans, China’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs singled out canines as forbidden in a draft “white list” of animals allowed to be raised for meat.
China has exonerated a doctor who was punished for warning about COVID-19 and later died of the disease. Dr Li Wenliang and seven colleagues were reprimanded in December for telling friends about the emerging coronavirus threat on social media. In an unusual admission of error, the ruling Communist Party’s top disciplinary body has now revoked its earlier decision – and sent a “solemn apology” to Dr Li’s family.