The Chinese Foreign Ministry has hit back at Fox News personality Jesse Watters for demanding that China apologise for the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Chinese are "a very hungry people"
Speaking on the March 2 edition of The Five programme, Watters first praised American President Donald Trump for "meeting with industry leaders" -- referring to pharmaceutical executives -- and said Trump has had his face in front of the camera "pretty much every day since last week".
The 41-year-old then said he would like to ask the Chinese for "an official apology", which he demanded to be made the next day by either Chinese President Xi Jinping or the Chinese embassy.
"This coronavirus originated in China, and I've not heard one word from the Chinese," he said.
"A simple 'I'm sorry'" would do, it would go a long way."
In response to his co-host, Dana Perino, asking, "What if [the virus] started here (in the United States)?", Watters said the Chinese eat "raw bats and snakes".
Repeating a common racist trope in the United States about the Chinese, he further said they are "a very hungry people".
"The Chinese Communist government cannot feed the people."
His co-hosts had appeared slightly uncomfortable with his comments even as they chuckled -- perhaps out of embarrassment -- with Perino, a former White House Press Secretary under George W. Bush, saying "No, Jesse."
Citing the New York Times, Watters further said "the Chinese government has been very deceitful and deceptive in the communicating the extent of the infections to the world".
Co-host Greg Gutfeld seemed to concur with Watters, saying "I love Jesse's asking China for an apology."
China claps back
In response to a reporter who asked about Watters' remarks at a routine presser held on March 5, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry newly appointed to the role in February, said the Fox News host's remarks were "ridiculous", and exposed his "arrogance, prejudice, and ignorance" towards China.He then said, "Firstly, viruses are the public enemy of all mankind, and patients all over the world are victims, so I do not see where the 'apology theory' fits in here."
He then cited the China-friendly World Health Organisation (WHO), saying the global health body had reiterated many times that stigma is even more dangerous than the virus itself.
Secondly, he said, it makes absolutely no sense that China should apologise.
He said: "The origins of the virus are now still undecided."
He added: "Regardless of where the virus originated in, China is the same as other infected countries, which are all victims that face the challenge of containing the spread of the virus."
China: Has anyone demanded an apology from the U.S. for H1N1?
Zhao further said: "The H1N1 (swine flu) that originated in America had spread to 214 countries and territories, and caused the deaths of at least 18,449 people."
This was in spite of scientific research revealing that the virus had originated from Mexico.
He added: "Had anyone demanded an apology from America?"
In addition, Zhao said China has displayed immeasurable credibility as a major country through its efforts in containing the viral outbreak, adding that China has received worldwide recognition for its power and efficiency, as well as the sacrifices it has made.
He then mentioned WHO again, saying that Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had pointed out that not only has China contained the virus within its own borders, it has also stopped the virus from spreading to other countries.
He further said Tedros had commended China for setting new standards for the world to follow when it comes to combating the spread of viruses.
Not the first time
Watters has a history of perpetuating racist stereotypes about the Chinese.
He infamously did so in a segment on a Fox News talk show The O’Reilly Factor, interviewing people who did not seem to speak English in New York City's Chinatown, and asking questions such as "Do you know karate?"
Malaysia-born comedian Ronnie Cheng had then slammed the show with a response of his own on The Daily Show, using his angry stand-up persona.
You can watch it here:
Top image adapted via Fox News & People's Daily