China on Sunday accused the US of pushing the bilateral ties to the brink of a "new Cold War" by spreading "lies" about the coronavirus and said it was open to international efforts to identify the source of the virus that has killed over 300,000 people globally.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said the lawsuits filed against China in the US demanding compensation for COVID-19 is an attempt to blackmail a victim with fabricated evidence.
Under constant attack from US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the origin of the coronavirus and failure to provide timely information, Wang launched a broadside against Washington in his annual press conference.
He accused American politicians of spreading “political virus” to smear China.
“It is the most regrettable that while the coronavirus is still out there, a 'political virus' is also spreading in the US and jumping at any opportunity to attack and slander China," he said in a video media conference on the sidelines of China’s annual session of the National People’s Conference (NPC).
"Some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War," Wang said.
Some politicians ignored the basic facts and made up countless lies and conspiracy theories concerning China.
"The longer the list, the more it says about how low the rumour-mongers are willing to go and the more stains they will leave in history," Wang, who is also the State Councillor, said.
He was scathingly critical of especially the lawsuits against China.
A lawsuit was filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt against the Chinese government, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), and other
Chinese officials and institutions in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
It alleges that during the critical weeks of the initial coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistle-blowers, destroyed critical medical research and permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.
Observers say the Missouri lawsuit could pose a problem to China given the US courts' claim of universal jurisdiction.
Asked whether Beijing is concerned that China’s overseas assets could be seized, Wang said "some people are clamouring for so-called accountability and compensation from a victim of COVID-19.
"They are fabricating so-called evidence for frivolous lawsuits. These people are tramping on international rule of law and betraying human conscience," he said.
"If anybody thought they could use some ludicrous lawsuits to undermine China’s sovereignty and dignity to deprive the Chinese people their hard-won gains they will be daydreaming and bring disgrace to themselves," he said.
He also struck a reconciliatory note saying that both the US and China should work together.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the common enemy of China and the US and it is the shared wish of the people of the two nations to support and help each other.
China and the US should share the experience of the epidemic fight and learn from each other to boost their respective responses, Wang said.
He said China is open to joint efforts by the international science community to identify the source of the virus, which originated from the central
Chinese city of Wuhan in December. He said the process must be professional, impartial and constructive.
By being "professional," it means that the process should be based on science, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and conducted on a global scale by scientists and medical experts.
By being "impartial," Wang said source-identification should be free from political interference, respect the sovereign equality of nations and oppose any presumption of guilt.
The research should cover all countries closely related to the virus. The whole process should be open, transparent, objective and rational, he said.
Wang put-up a staunch defence of the WHO and its beleaguered Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, whom Trump termed as a “puppet of China”.
"As for the WHO's international standing and its place in history, I'm sure clear-eyed people around the world will reach a fair conclusion, one that will not be altered just because some country doesn't like it," Wang added.
Those who throw mud at the WHO will only leave a stain on themselves, Wang said.
Facts have shown that those countries that heeded and followed the WHO's advice are more successful in bringing the virus under control, while those that ignored or rejected its advice are paying a heavy price, he said.
The overall number of global coronavirus cases has increased to over 5.3 million, while the death toll surged past 342,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
As of Sunday morning, the total number of cases stood at 5,309,698, while the death toll increased to 342,078, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the US is nearing 100,000 --more than double the number of reported deaths as any other nation.