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Fact Check: Did Germany Really Send £130 Billion Bill to China for Covid-19 Damages?

A man wearing protective gear gets through security check at Wuchang Railway Station before travel restrictions to leave Wuhan are lifted. (Reuters)

A man wearing protective gear gets through security check at Wuchang Railway Station before travel restrictions to leave Wuhan are lifted. (Reuters)

The German government never sent such an invoice to China.

For the past few days, there have been news reports and claims that Germany sent a bill of $ 162 billion (or £130 billion pounds) to China for damages caused due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, such reports are misleading.

It began when Express UK wrote an article with a headline that insinuated that Germany, meaning the Angela Merkel-led German government, had sent the invoice. The news report went viral and several media organisations including a few Indian news agencies also picked it up. The headline of the original Express UK article has now been changed, although the URL still mentions Angela Merkel.

But here's the catch. The German government never sent such an invoice to China. On the contrary, a German newspaper named Bild did.

The newspaper came up with a report stating the damages incurred by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the country's economy. The report was headlined "What China Owes Us".

A report by Moneycontrol shows that the Chinese Embassy reacted to the article by Bild and called it xenophobic. The Chinese Embassy also felt that it was wrong to blame one particular country for a pandemic that was affecting the whole world.

Bild joins the long list of people and organisations, including US President Donald Trump, who blame China for spreading the pandemic. Trump had gone so far as to say that China had knowingly spread the virus and should have been more cautious of the way the country handled the pandemic before it spread to the rest of the world.

In short, the claim made by Express UK and other reports who picked up the same, were misleading and false. Germany or the German government has sent no such bill to China although German Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier said the more transparent China is about how the virus originated, "the better it is for everyone in the world in order to learn from it".