China accuses US of 'weaponizing' extended Shanghai lockdown
As Shanghai remains under a strict lockdown, the US has ordered all non-emergency consular staff to leave the city.
China has lashed out at the United States for ordering its consulate staff to leave the locked-down city of Shanghai, accusing officials of "weaponizing" the financial hub's failing attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The United States on Monday ordered all non-essential consular staff in Shanghai to leave the city, which is currently under a tight lockdown to contain what for China is an unusually high number of COVID cases.
The order, which covers "non-emergency US government employees and their family members from U.S. Consulate General Shanghai," goes a step further than last week's "authorized" departure, which made the decision voluntary.
China's most populous city has been laboring under a chaotic and uncompromising citywide lockdown for weeks, with many residents unable to access basic goods including food and medical care.
China's Foreign Ministry has notified the US it "firmly opposes" the consulate order, ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a news briefing on Tuesday.
"We express strong dissatisfaction with the politicization and weaponization of evacuations by the US," Zhao said, adding that the US was "smearing China."
Zhao also defended China's Covid prevention and control policies as "scientific and effective," insisting the government had "every confidence in bringing the new wave of Covid-19 under control" despite rising case numbers.
The financial hub reported more than 26,000 new locally transmitted cases on Monday, the sixth consecutive day over 20,000, according to China's National Health Commission (NHC). So far, more than 320,000 cases have been reported across 31 provinces -- including those in Shanghai -- since March 1.
Zhao's assertion stands in stark contrast to more somber messages from other Chinese officials, including the NHC deputy director Lei Zhenglong, who on Tuesday warned Shanghai's outbreak has "not been effectively contained."
He added that the outbreak had since spread to many provinces, and that the number of new infections is expected to remain high in the coming days.
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