Brazil governors seek Chinese medical aid amid diplomatic spat

Recife, Brazil, Mar 21 (efe-epa).- A Brazilian consortium of nine northeastern states opposed to President Jair Bolsonaro has sought Chinese help to contain the coronavirus pandemic amid a diplomatic spat triggered by his son blaming China for the global health crisis.

In a virtual meeting on Friday, the Northeastern Consortium Group, formed last year by state governments for cooperation, decided to request Chinese Ambassador Yang Wanming for aid, especially medical supplies and equipment to tackle the challenge posed by the gradually spreading deadly virus.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health reported 11 deaths until Friday, nine of them in Sao Paulo, the most populous and affected state, and two in Rio de Janeiro, in addition to 904 confirmed coronavirus cases.

In a missive sent to the ambassador, the nine governors of the northeastern state underlined that China has just dealt with a similar problem, and that Brazil has been expected to face a shortage of intensive therapy beds and ventilators to care for the infected patients.

The letter signed by consortium president and Bahia state Governor Rui Costa praised how China has dealt with the epidemic and underscored the bonds of friendship between the two nations.

The plea comes two days after a diplomatic crisis between Brazil and China caused by statements by one of the president’s sons, lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro, who held the Asian country responsible for the pandemic.

The president’s son, who has served as an adviser in international affairs and was proposed as Brazil’s ambassador to Washington, alleged that China preferred to hide a serious problem rather than deal with it transparently fearing losses, endangering countless lives.

The deputy compared Chinese management of the coronavirus, whose first outbreak was registered in the city of Wuhan, to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine under the now-defunct Soviet Union.

In response, China’s ambassador took to social media to express Beijing’s repudiation and outrage over Eduardo Bolsonaro’s statements and demanded apologies.

On Thursday, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo called the ambassador’s reaction “unacceptable and disproportionate” to the legislator’s statements and demanded a retraction, further stoking the diplomatic controversy.

China is Brazil’s main trading partner.

According to official Brazilian data, bilateral trade between the two nations increased from $3.2 billion in 2001 to $98 billion in 2019, with a favorable trade balance of $25,000 for the South American nation. EFE-EPA


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