MANILA - Philippine Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday that the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) from China is a "challenge" that "will strengthen it in the eyes of the world as a power that just cannot be defeated even by nature."
Speaking at an inquiry by the Senate Committee on Health on the government's preparedness against the new virus strain, Locsin said "this disease is only proving the resilience and strength of China."
"There is no doubt that there are people abroad, in the West who are perhaps happy that this is happening to China because this may spell the end of Chinese power," Manila's top diplomat said.
But, "unfortunately for them," China's strength is manifesting amid the crisis, it even built its "massive containment facility" for the disease in 10 days, Locsin said.
"That only shows how strong the country is," he said.
Locsin's remarks were made after Senate President Vicente Sotto III sought his reaction to a video that suggests, albeit unverified, that the 2019-nCoV was developed as a bioweapon.
"This is an example of the craziest video I have ever seen," he said.
Nonetheless, the foreign minister belied allegations "that China even withheld information about this disease," disclosing that the country's consulate in Hong Kong received word about it from the Hong Kong government on Jan. 7.
"China was already spreading the news to all its administrative regions, who were then authorized to tell us that this is happening. Three days later, they discover the isolated virus," Locsin said.
"In short, even before they were sure of it, they were already warning everyone. From that point on, China was already warning us, and I assume warning all the other consulates and embassies about the progress of this disease," he added.
The 2019-nCoV was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, and later spread, killing over 400 people and infecting over 20,000 others, mainly in China.
The Philippines recorded two confirmed cases, involving two Chinese nationals from Wuhan. One of whom died last Saturday, the first 2019-nCoV-related death reported outside of China.