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US, Chinese Ambassadors to Budapest In Hot-Tempered Argument Over Responsibility for Covid-19

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.08.03.

Over the last week, the American and Chinese ambassadors to Budapest got into a serious debate over China’s responsibility for the Covid-19 pandemic. The representatives of the two superpowers have made serious allegations against one another.

Two weeks ago, in an interview with Hungarian public television M1, US Ambassador David Cornstein criticized China, partly blaming the rival superpower for the Covid-19 outbreak. The diplomat also claimed that at the beginning of the pandemic, Beijing bought protective equipment from other countries which it later resold at ten times the price. “Where was the outrage about that?” Cornstein asked.

US Ambassador: Orbán Forceful Leader, Not Very Much Interested in Open Borders
US Ambassador: Orbán Forceful Leader, Not Very Much Interested in Open Borders

Hungary is attracting “a great deal of attention” from global powers like the United States, China and Russia, said David Cornstein, the US ambassador to Hungary, on a radio talk show on Sunday. Speaking to billionaire John Catsimatidis on his “CATS Roundtable” New York radio show, Cornstein said Hungary and the central European region “all […]Continue reading

Although Cornstein’s criticism toward China was only two minutes long in the nearly half-hour interview, Duan Jielong, the Chinese Ambassador to Hungary, was quick to respond. In a piece titled “The lies of the American Ambassador,” published in pro-Fidesz daily Magyar Nemzet, he described the allegations of his American colleague as malicious slander and mere provocation.

According to the Chinese ambassador, the US has done everything possible to politicize the epidemic, place the blame on China, and undermine international cooperation against the pandemic. When every country in the world asked the WHO to play a leading role in the fight against the infection, America not only started malicious accusations, disrupted the work of the WHO, but also unscrupulously attacked the leaders of the organization, the Chinese diplomat emphasized, adding that the US even went so far as to announce its resignation from the organization.

Duan Jielong also accused Washington of racism for labeling the virus “Chinese.” Furthermore, the ambassador accused the US of rampantly putting their hands on other countries’ protective gear, and even pushing up their prices in the Chinese market.

Coronavirus: Orbán Thanks China President for Help
Coronavirus: Orbán Thanks China President for Help

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has had telephone talks with China’s President Xi Jinping, the PM’s press office reported on Friday. Orbán thanked the Chinese leader for his country’s contribution to Hungarian efforts to rein in the coronavirus epidemic, and discussed future economic cooperation. Featured photo illustration by Balázs Szecsődi/PM’s Press OfficeContinue reading

In response, Cornstein published his article on the embassy’s website the next day, claiming that the Chinese Communist Party’s intentions are crystal clear, condemning China for the mass religious persecution of Christians and Muslims and their recent evisceration of Hong Kong’s freedoms.

The US ambassador thinks Hungarians understand clearly that companies based in communist dictatorships – such as Huawei or ZTE – are obligated to obey their government’s orders to cooperate with their intelligence services.

Cornstein feels confident which side Hungary and ‘the wonderful, freedom-loving Hungarian people’ will choose: with freedom and democracy on one side and tyranny and authoritarianism on the other.

Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI