China says virus pushing US ties to brink of 'Cold War'

China said on May 24 that its relations with the United States were "on the brink of a new Cold War," fuelled partly by tensions over the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 350,000 people worldwide and pitched the global economy into a massive downturn.

Fresh tensions between Beijing and Washington emerged as virus restrictions continued to shape and remake lives around the world, and in very different ways.     

They muted celebrations by Muslims of the end of Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan; and they produced a decidedly mixed picture on newly reopened U.S. beaches, with masks common on some and drawing jeers on others. One jam-packed pool party in Missouri, footage of which went viral, was a joyful bedlam of bodies just feet or inches apart from each other.    

More European nations meanwhile moved to ease their lockdowns, with virus trends improving and summer nearing. They loosened restrictions that have kept restaurants, bars and hotels shuttered, devastating tourism, and they moved toward reopening more schools.

Globally, more than 5.3 million people have been infected by the virus, which most scientists believe jumped from animals to humans -- possibly late last year at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.    

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Beijing of a lack of transparency over the outbreak, suggesting the virus may have leaked from a top-security Chinese laboratory.    

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on May 24 that Washington seemed infected by a "political virus" but that Beijing would nevertheless be open to an international effort to find the coronavirus source.    

"Some political forces in the U.S. are taking China-U.S. relations hostage and pushing our two...

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