China denies seeking virus praise from Germany

Beijing (AFP) –


Beijing denied Monday that it was soliciting praise for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic following a report that Chinese representatives tried to earn kudos from German officials.

China has faced criticism abroad -- notably in the United States -- over the outbreak that first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

It has sent aid to European countries in recent weeks, a move seen as a charm offensive to deflect blame for the pandemic.

Citing a confidential foreign ministry document, Germany's Die Welt newspaper reported Sunday that senior officials and staff at German government ministries were invited "to speak in positive terms about China's management of the coronavirus".

The German foreign ministry recommended that all governmental departments reject such approaches, the newspaper added.

A German intelligence source told Die Welt that "Chinese officials are pursuing an intensified information and propaganda policy with regard to the coronavirus".

Asked about the report, China's foreign ministry said in a statement to AFP: "Our goal is to better protect the lives and health of our own people and maintain global public health and safety rather than obtaining others' appreciation.

"(We have) neither need to seek praise, nor intention to launch a 'propaganda war'."

The German foreign ministry declined to confirm or deny the report.