China has demanded an explanation from Brazil after its education minister insinuated a link between the coronavirus pandemic to its “plan for world domination” in a tweet imitating a Chinese accent.
In the latest incident to strain ties between Brasilia and Beijing, Education Minister Abraham Weintraub implied China could be behind the contagion.
“Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis?” he wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Who in Brazil is allied with this infallible plan for world domination?”
The Chinese embassy in Brasilia condemned Weintraub’s “absurd and despicable” comment, calling it “highly racist”, on Monday.
“The Chinese government expects an official explanation from Brazil,” said Ambassador Yang Wanming.
The dispute comes as Brazil, like many countries, is hoping to source more medical equipment from China to deal with COVID-19.
Weintraub said in an interview he stood by his tweet and called on China to do more to help fight the pandemic.
“If they [China] sell us 1,000 ventilators, I’ll get down on my knees in front of the embassy, apologise, and say I was an idiot,” he told Radio Bandeirantes.
Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said last week that Brazil is struggling to source ventilators and other vital health supplies from China, saying some of its orders were cancelled without explanation.