China has made fresh claims that the coronavirus actually originated in Australia and then travelled to the wet market in Wuhan via import of frozen food, especially beef. This has added new insult to injury amid the ongoing diplomatic spat between the two countries. However, there is no supporting evidence to the claims.

The new claims were made in an article in the government-controlled Global Times newspaper on Sunday. China has long suggested that coronavirus originated in Europe or the United States months before cases were reported in China. However, most scientists generally locate the origin of the virus to a Wuhan wet market.

Targeting Australia

china
The Huanan wet market considered to be 'ground zero' for the virus, according to experts wikimediacommons

The Global Times, in a bid to cast doubt on the idea that Covid-91 originated in Wuhan, claimed in an article that the virus got imported into the Wuhan wet market from Australian beef steak. Besides, it also claimed that products such as meat from Brazil and Germany, cherries from Chile and seafood from Ecuador may be responsible in transporting coronavirus into China.

"The city also imported Australian steak, Chilean cherries and Ecuadorian seafood before 2019, according to the information from the website of the city's commerce bureau," the article claims. The Global Times articled further mentioned that since July there have been 40 cases of coronavirus being found on cold-chain imports, including on imported beef.

However, the authors admitted there was no evidence to support the theory that the virus started outside China. The government-controlled People's Daily newspaper also published a similar article on November 25 titled 'COVID-19 Did Not Start in Central China's Wuhan but may come through imported frozen food and packaging: experts.' However, it didn't name Australia or any other country in the report.

China has been trying to push the theory of coronavirus originating outside the country since October after experts traced an outbreak in Qingdao city wherein it found living coronavirus samples on packets of imported frozen cod.

The Global Times and other Chinese media outlets earlier took reference of a newspaper published by Italy's National Cancer Institute which said Covid-19 antibodies had been found in samples of cancer patients taken there in October last year.

All's Not Well

SARS-CoV-2
Novel Coronavirus (Representational Picture) Pixabay

The recent claims come amid souring diplomatic relationship between China and Australia. In late November, China had blocked Australian exports including coal and seafood before slapping a 212% tariff on Aussie wine, effectively banning the product. Since then the two countries have been involved in a bitter spat.

Relationship between the two countries hit a new low last week after China's foreign ministry spokesman sparked fury by tweeting a mocked-up image of a soldier threatening to kill an Afghan child after a report said Aussie troops committed war crimes.

In April, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry in April, which was formally accepted by more than 130 other countries, into the origins of coronavirus in China.

China is also furious that Australia banned Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from the country's 5G network and is blocking foreign investment bids by Chinese companies. The Global Times has particularly coming up with articles showing Australia in poor light.

On Sunday, in a separate article, the media outlet claimed Australia to be a close ally to the United States and that it has been 'the pawn in the US regional strategy in the recent years' and published a cartoon of a kangaroo projecting the shadow of an eagle, the national emblem of America.