Boris Johnson blames Chinese for coronavirus pandemic telling world leaders it was triggered by ‘demented’ people who ‘grind up the scales of a pangolin’ in a bid to become more ‘potent’
- He made the remarks in a virtual speech to the One Planet Summit yesterday
- Pangolins are heavily-trafficked scaly anteater-like creatures found across Asia
- Endangered species blamed for transmitting the virus from bats to humans
Published: 11:54 GMT, 12 January 2021 | Updated: 13:29 GMT, 12 January 2021
In a speech to world leaders yesterday he attacked people who ‘grind up the scales of a pangolin’ in a bid to become more ‘potent’.
He made the remarks, which risk a furious diplomatic row – in a speech to the One Planet Summit, hosted by France’s President Macron.
Pangolins are heavily-trafficked scaly anteater-like creatures, which have been blamed for transmitting the virus from bats to humans.
The first documented cases of the Covid-19 were in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with a wet market trading in exotic animals being seen as the probable source.
In comments that are likely to risk fury from Beijing, Mr Johnson said: ‘Obviously it’s right to focus on climate change, obviously it’s right to cut CO2 emissions, but we won’t achieve a real balance with our planet unless we protect nature as well.
‘One final thought, don’t forget that the coronavirus pandemic was the product of an imbalance in man’s relationship with the natural world.
‘Like the original plague which struck the Greeks I seem to remember in book one of the Iliad, it is a zoonotic disease.
‘It originates from bats or pangolins, from the demented belief that if you grind up the scales of a pangolin you will somehow become more potent or whatever it is people believe, it originates from this collision between mankind and the natural world and we’ve got to stop it.’
But China has warned claims against the country will not be tolerated, Bloomberg reported. Today Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: ‘We’ve said many times that origin tracing is a scientific matter.
‘There is no room, no place, for people making speculations, hyping up – otherwise it will only disrupt international co-operation.’