The son of Brazil‘s President Jair Bolsonaro has joined US President Donald Trump in criticizing China over the spread of the coronavirus, prompting demands from Beijing for an apology.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, a 35-year-old lawmaker, accused China on Tuesday of concealing information about the spread of COVID-19, saying the country’s actions were similar to what “the Soviet dictatorship” did during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
“Once again, a dictatorship preferred to hide something serious to avoid criticism, when it could have saved countless lives,” Bolsonaro’s third son on Twitter.
“China is guilty and freedom would be the solution,” he said.
China’s Ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, demanded an apology from the lawmaker “to the Chinese people” in a tweet written in Chinese and Portuguese.
Brazil’s lower house speaker Rodrigo Maia hurriedly apologized on behalf of the chamber “for the thoughtless words of Eduardo Bolsonaro.”
China’s embassy in Brasilia accused Bolsonaro of carrying on Trump’s animosity towards Beijing.
“We are familiar with your irresponsible words. You imitate your dear (American) friends. On your return from Miami, you unfortunately caught a mental virus, which infected the friendship between our peoples,” the embassy said in a tweet.
The junior Bolsonaro was part of the delegation that accompanied his father to Miami from March 7-10 on a visit to the United States, which included a dinner with Trump, who has repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”
China is Brazil’s leading trade partner, where it exports iron ore, beef and soybeans.