Washington D.C.: At the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, Italy had donated Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to China and now when Italy is in dire need of PPE, China wants to sell them to Italy, according to a report in the Spectator magazine.
The China-originated bug, which crossed continents to make Italy its epicentre in Europe, wreaked havoc on its people, especially the frontline warriors- the doctors and nurses.
Within days, more than 15,000 people were killed and over a lakh others got affected by the dangerous pathogen.
In an attempt to restore its humanitarian image following the crisis, China projected to the world that it would donate PPE to Italy.
But later it was revealed, it was not a humanitarian gesture but a business- Beijing had actually sold, not donated, the PPE to Italy, several media reports claimed.
A senior Trump administration official was quoted by The Spectator as saying that it is much worse than that and China "forced Italy to buy back the PPE supply that it gave to China during the initial coronavirus outbreak."
"Before the virus hit Europe, Italy sent tons of PPE to China to help China protect its own population," the administration official explained.
"China then has sent Italian PPE back to Italy -- some of it, not even all of it ... and charged them for it," he added.
Unfortunately, China's diplomacy in the wake of the pandemic outbreak has been slippery.
Much of the supplies and testing kits that China sold to other countries have turned out to be defective.
Spain had to return 50,000 quick-testing kits to China after discovering that they were faulty.
In some cases, instead of apologizing or fixing the issue, China has blamed its defective equipment on others. It condescendingly told The Netherlands to 'double-check the instructions' on its masks, for example, after The Netherlands complained that half of the masks they were sent did not meet safety standards, the media reported.
"It's so disingenuous for Chinese officials now to say we are the ones who are helping the Italians or we are the ones who are helping the developing world when, in fact, they are the ones who infected all of us," the senior administration official said.
"Of course they should be helping. They have a special responsibility to help because they are the ones who began the spread of the coronavirus and did not give the information required to the rest of the world to plan accordingly," he added.
The official also said that China's 'disinformation campaign' of lying to the world about the seriousness of its COVID-19 outbreak has further delayed the response by countries.
As China downplayed the outbreak within its borders, nearly half a million people traveled to the US potentially carrying the virus, the official said.
As the lethal virus paves its way through continents and various territories across the globe, killing people in millions and crippling economies, China has still been underreporting about the accurate figures in the mainland. The country has also claimed no new deaths from the virus, even as thousands of ash urns are shipped to local hospitals.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.