An internal report has warned Chinese leaders of the possibility of a military confrontation with the United States as tensions grow with Washington over accusations that Beijing has mishandled the new coronavirus outbreak.
The report, created by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), which is a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, was presented to top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, early last month and concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the violent incident at the Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Sources familiar with the report’s content were cited by Reuters as saying that Beijing faced a wave of backlash led by the administration of US President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the pandemic and needed to be prepared in the worst-case scenario for an armed confrontation.
The paper stressed that Washington views China’s rise as an economic and national security threat and a challenge to the West, according to the sources, and that the United States was aiming to undercut the ruling Communist Party by undermining public confidence.
The novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, first erupted in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before growing into a global pandemic, which has so far infected more than 3.6 million people and killed over 255,000 throughout the world.
Beijing and Washington have time and again clashed over the virus spread and its origin, further increasing tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Trump keeps referring to the novel coronavirus as the Chinese virus and Beijing has hit back by suggesting that the US military brought the virus to Wuhan and initiated the outbreak.
Trump has over the past weeks claimed that there is evidence Beijing created the new coronavirus in a medical lab in the Chinese city. This is while the US intelligence agencies say they have seen no evidence to show the virus is “man-made.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has on several occasions accused China of not being transparent and honest about the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The New York Times has reported that the White House is putting pressure on American intelligence agencies to provide evidence in support of Trump’s claims about the deadly virus being a laboratory construct.
In February, China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed rumors that the virus may have been artificially synthesized at one of its laboratories or perhaps escaped from such a facility.
Trump once again claimed on Thursday he was confident the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, but declined to elaborate.
China has fiercely defended its handling of the new coronavirus, repeatedly saying it “has been nothing but open, transparent and responsible” in informing the World Health Organization (WHO) and affected countries about the pandemic.
Scientific studies have already suggested that the virus originated through natural processes.