China demanded an explanation from Brazil after its education minister satirized the relationship between the coronavirus pandemic and the “plan of world domination” in a tweet that mimicked Chinese accents.
In the latest incident to strengthen relations between Brazil and Beijing, Education Minister Abraham Weintraub implied that China could be behind the transmission.
“Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis?” he wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Who in Brazil is allied with the perfect plan for world domination?”
In original Portuguese, the tweet replaced the letter “r” with the capital letter “L” – “BLazil” – in a style normally used to mock Chinese accents.
The Chinese embassy in Brasilia condemned Weintraub’s comments “unreasonable and despicable”, calling it “very racist”, on Monday.
“The Chinese government expects an official explanation from Brazil,” Ambassador Yang Wanming said.
O lado chinês aguarda uma declaração oficial do lado brasileiro sobre as palavras feitas pelo min. da educação, membro do governo brasileiro. There is nothing you want from this list that will do whatever you need to get more races and get better with better. @ItamaratyGovBr https://t.co/etYsXA48yw
– Yang Wanming (@WanmingYang) April 6, 2020
Translation: Mandarin [government] waiting for an official statement from Brazil [administration] about the declaration made by the Minister of Education … We are aware that our people are on the same side in opposing racism and maintaining our friendship.
The dispute occurred when Brazil, like many countries, hoped to get more medical equipment from China to handle COVID-19.
Weintraub said in an interview that he supported his tweet and asked China to do more to help fight the pandemic.
“If they [China] sell us 1,000 ventilators, I will kneel in front of the embassy, apologize, and say I’m an idiot, “he told Radio Bandeirantes.
Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said last week that Brazil was struggling to get a ventilator and other vital health supplies from China, saying some of its orders had been canceled without explanation.
Social media war
This problem erupted into a social media war on Monday. The top trend on Twitter in Brazil is #TradeBlockadeOnChinaNow.
Brazil, whose biggest trading partner is China, is the most affected Latin American countries by coronavirus, with nearly 500 deaths and more than 11,000 confirmed cases so far.
Since the pandemic emerged, Brazil-China relations have been strained, especially by a series of tweets by President Jair Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, a federal legislator.
Eduardo Bolsonaro criticized China’s “dictatorship” for handling the outbreak in March.
Last week, he tweeted about the “Chinese virus”, an expression that angered Beijing. It has also been used by US President Donald Trump, who is admired by his father.
That prompted the Chinese consul general in Rio de Janeiro, Li Yang, to ask Eduardo in the opinion column in the Brazilian newspaper Globo: “Are you really naive and stupid?”
Al Jazeera and the news agency
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