Bolsonaro’s son enrages Beijing by blaming China for coronavirus crisis

Row after Eduardo Bolsonaro claims ‘it’s China’s fault’, drawing a ferocious rebuke from senior Chinese diplomats

Beijing’s ambassador to Brazil has launched a stinging attack on the son of its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, after he claimed the Chinese Communist party was to blame for the coronavirus crisis sweeping the world.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro’s influential politician son Eduardo – who many regard as Brazil’s de facto foreign minister and has close ties to Steve Bannon – enraged Beijing with an incendiary tweet about its role in the pandemic.

“It’s China’s fault,” Bolsonaro claimed on Twitter, retweeting a message that said: “The blame for the global coronavirus pandemic has a name and surname: the Chinese Communist party.”

That remark drew a ferocious rebuke from senior Chinese diplomats, who have become increasingly combative since Xi Jinping – an authoritarian leader regarded as China’s most powerful since Mao Zedong – took power in 2012.

Yang Wanming, Beijing’s top diplomat in Brazil, demanded an immediate retraction and apology for the “evil insult”, while his embassy accused Eduardo Bolsonaro of contracting “a mental virus” during a recent trip to the United States.

“Your words are extremely irresponsible,” the embassy in Brasília tweeted.

“Regrettably, you’re someone lacking both international vision and common sense, knowing neither China nor the world,” the Chinese embassy added. “We would advise you not to be in such a hurry to be the US’ spokesperson in Brazil – you’ll fall flat on your face.”

According to reports in the Brazilian media Yang also retweeted a message that read: “The Bolsonaro family is the great poison of this country.”

The row coincides with a deepening diplomatic row over the disease between Beijing and Washington, which was exacerbated by Donald Trump’s insistence on referring to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus”.

But Eduardo Bolsonaro’s attack on Brazil’s biggest trade partner has also underscored the pugnacious and volatile turn Brazilian politics has taken under his father’s far-right leadership – even towards key Brazilian partners.

“You should be EXPELLED from the country,” Allan dos Santos, one of the loudest online cheerleaders of Bolsonarismo, tweeted at China’s ambassador on Thursday.

Another prominent Bolsonarista, Bernardo Küster, tweeted: “This shit came from China. The Chinas [sic] lied and were negligent. Don’t trust communists – much less Chinese communists.”

But Chinese diplomats – once regarded as drab and phlegmatic operators – are also increasingly inclined to fight back publicly, as well as privately inflicting economic pain on their detractors.

“We treat our friends with fine wine,” China’s ambassador to Sweden warned last year in the bluntest expression of that new assertiveness. “But for our enemies we have shotguns.”


Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Brazilians stranded in Wuhan issue plea to Bolsonaro for rescue
Citizens post video appealing for evacuation from city at centre of coronavirus outbreak

Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

02, Feb, 2020 @4:32 PM

Article image
Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro says coronavirus crisis is a media trick
Far-right president has resisted strong measures to stop spread of what he calls a ‘little flu’

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

23, Mar, 2020 @12:58 PM

Article image
Lula excoriates Bolsonaro’s ‘moronic’ Covid response in comeback speech
Addressing the nation, Brazil’s former president left no doubt that his political fightback had begun

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

10, Mar, 2021 @7:15 PM

Article image
Bolsonaro’s ‘genocidal’ Covid response has led to Brazilian catastrophe, Dilma Rousseff says
Former president tells Guardian Brazil faces perhaps gravest moment in its history and is ‘adrift on an ocean of hunger and disease’

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

10, Apr, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
‘You can’t recover from death’: Argentina’s Covid-19 response the opposite of Brazil’s
Argentina closed swiftly, while Brazil downplayed the crisis. The difference is reflected in their pandemic figures

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires and Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

10, May, 2020 @9:00 AM

Article image
‘Bolsonaro’s to blame’: Indigenous rights champion on crisis in Brazil
The veteran explorer Sydney Possuelo says the far-right president has promoted a ‘deliberate policy’ of violence and land invasions

Tom Phillips in the Araribóia Indigenous territory

30, Aug, 2022 @9:00 AM

Article image
Brazilians protest over Bolsonaro's muddled coronavirus response
Dissenters express dissatisfaction by hitting pots and pans from their windows and balconies

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

22, Mar, 2020 @5:41 PM

Article image
Brazilian left demands Bolsonaro resign over coronavirus response
President accused of cynically and criminally putting business interests over public safety

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

30, Mar, 2020 @4:37 PM

Article image
Bolsonaro and Amlo slammed for snubbing coronavirus warnings
Brazilian and Mexican leaders mingle with public as critics say they should set example as outbreak grows

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro and David Agren in Mexico City

15, Mar, 2020 @8:11 PM

Article image
'Trump is tearing apart America': how the world sees the US protests
The racial tensions in the US have emboldened both President Trump’s allies and his enemies

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires, Lily Kuo in Beijing, Jason Burke in Johannesburg,Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro, Sam Jones in Madrid, and Julian Borger in Washington

07, Jun, 2020 @7:28 PM