Coronavirus: Chinese officials 'concerned' over PM's lack of contact

6 February 2020, 11:03 | Updated: 4 March 2020, 17:46

The Ambassador met with the PM's father who accidentally emailed the BBC
The Ambassador met with the PM's father who accidentally emailed the BBC. Picture: CMFA/PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Chinese officials have said they are "concerned" Boris Johnson did not send a message of support in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Prime Minister's father met with the Chinese Ambassador to the UK and emailed his concerns to government officials, accidentally copying in the BBC.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming told Mr Johnson the PM had not yet directly contacted the Chinese over the outbreak.

Stanley Johnson had an hour and a half meeting with Ambassador Liu discussing upcoming environmental summits.

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The PM's father sent the email to environment minister Lord (Zac) Goldsmith and other officials.

The BBC reported Mr Johnson wrote: "Re the outbreak of coronavirus, Mr Liu obviously was concerned that there had not yet - so he asserted - been direct contact between the PM and Chinese head of state or government in terms of a personal message or telephone call."

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Mr Johnson told reporters: "I merely reported. I think I said in my short note the Chinese ambassador asserted..."

He added: "I was copying in someone who happened to have the same name as a lady at the BBC.

"These things happen."

Mr Johnson wrote: "Re the outbreak of coronavirus, Mr Liu obviously was concerned that there had not yet - so he asserted - been direct contact between the PM and Chinese head of state or government in terms of a personal message or telephone call."

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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming met with the PM's father
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming met with the PM's father. Picture: Twitter/AmbLiuXiaoMing

Mr Liu shared pictures of him and Mr Johnson on Twitter after their meeting

The Chinese ambassador tweeted: "Thank you, Mr. Stanley Johnson, for expressing your sympathy and support to the Chinese people who are fighting the novel coronavirus.

"With the support of British friends, we have the confidence and capability to beat the virus!"

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A UK government spokesman said: "The government has been in close contact with the Chinese authorities since the start of the outbreak."

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The foreign secretary and national security adviser had spoken to their counterparts in the past week, the spokesman added.

"The UK has provided medical supplies to help China tackle the outbreak and together we have facilitated the repatriation of British nationals and their dependants from Wuhan," he said.

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