During an event on Wednesday, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro voiced Sinophobic conspiracy theories, suggesting China could have developed the coronavirus in a laboratory and disseminated it as a tactic of biological warfare for economic gain.
“It is a new virus, nobody knows if it came about in a laboratory or in a human being [who] ingested an contaminated animal. But it is there. The military knows that it is part of chemical, bacteriological and radiological warfare. Are we not facing a new war?” the president said.
While many scientists say SARS-CoV-2 probably has a natural origin, a lab leak has not been ruled out, and many international actors are calling for a deeper investigation into the hypothesis that the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Mr. Bolsonaro also asked supporters “which country’s GDP has grown the most.”
Unlike the majority of nations, China declared a GDP increase of 2.3 percent last year, rising to roughly USD 14.7 trillion, according to Wind Information data. At its current pace, China could surpass the U.S. as the world’s top economy in 2026 — two years earlier than anticipated.
The coronavirus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late in 2019. In February last year, authorities shut down over half of the country’s economy using highly draconian isolation measures. Initially, urban unemployment hit a record high 6.2 percent and the country’s economy dipped 6.8 percent in Q1 2020. However, according to JPMorgan analysts, the ability to tame the pandemic was what allowed China to recover earlier than other major economies.
Brazil, meanwhile, has been considered a worldwide pandemic cautionary tale. President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly spoken out against social isolation, face masks, and vaccines. He promoted unproven treatments against the coronavirus and got rid of three Health Ministers since April 2020.
This is just Mr. Bolsonaro’s latest in a series of digs at China. Since the pandemic broke, the president has persistently attacked Brazil’s outright top trading partner. Recently, even Economy Minister Paulo Guedes declared that “the Chinese invented the virus.”