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China is coming after author Mario Vargas Llosa for saying the coronavirus originated there

Carlos R. Alvarez/WireImage
War of words.
  • Isabella Steger
By Isabella Steger

Asia deputy editor


In its ongoing campaign to spin the global narrative over the origins of the novel coronavirus, China is leaving no stone unturned. Its latest target: Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa.

The Chinese embassy in Lima published an announcement (link in Chinese) today blasting the Nobel laureate for his “irresponsible” comments he made with regards to China and the coronavirus outbreak. The statement, which can be found on the embassy’s account on chat app WeChat, was in reference to a column (link in Spanish) written by Vargas Llosa and published in Spanish newspaper El País yesterday.

In the column, 83-year-old Vargas Llosa stated that the virus had “originated in China,” and that because of the epidemic, society is showing signs of returning to the Middle Ages when people lived in fear of the plague. This would not be happening, Vargas Llosa wrote, were it not for China’s undemocratic political system, highlighting the fact that doctors who tried to blow the whistle at the start of the outbreak were silenced, and time that could have been used to develop a vaccine was thereby lost. He said such actions were the hallmark of dictatorships, and compared the sequence of events in China to that of the Chernobyl disaster (a comparison that many in China began making in the early days of the epidemic).

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