Brazilian Minister Says China Has Been Profiting From Pandemic

(Bloomberg) -- A member of President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet reignited a diplomatic spat with China, saying Brazil’s top trading partner has been profiting from the coronavirus pandemic by selling respirators and other medical supplies to the highest bidder.

Education Minister Abraham Weintraub’s allegations follow remarks by the president’s own son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, who last month blamed the pandemic on the “Chinese dictatorship,” eliciting a strong response from China’s ambassador to Brazil.

“When the crisis erupted, instead of alerting the world, they withheld information and rushed to build respirators, which they’re now selling to a world that’s desperate for them,” Weitraub said in an interview with Radio Bandeirantes on Monday.

The interview followed a tweet the minister posted Sunday, and later deleted, using a cartoon character to mock Chinese accents and suggest Beijing was taking advantage of the crisis to carry out a world domination plan. The spat threatens recent efforts to improve relations with China just as Brazil needs medical supplies to fight the pandemic that’s already cost more than 500 lives in the country.

Responding to that tweet, China’s Embassy in Brasilia said that “completely absurd and despicable declarations, with a racist nature and unspeakable objectives, have caused negative influences in the healthy development of bilateral relations between Brazil and China.”

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