MUMBAI, India – One of Asia’s top prelates has laid the blame for the coronavirus on the doorstep of China’s communist government, saying it has the “primary responsibility” for the pandemic which has put much of the world under lockdown.

“The Chinese regime led by the all-powerful [Chinese President Xi Jinping] and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – not its people – owes us all an apology, and compensation for the destruction it has caused,” said Myanmar Cardinal Charles Bo, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences [FABC].

“At a minimum it should write off the debts of other countries, to cover the cost of COVID-19. For the sake of our common humanity, we must not be afraid to hold this regime to account,” the cardinal continued.

“International voices are raising against the negligent attitude showed by China, especially its despotic Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by its strong man Xi,” Bo said, citing the March 29 article in The Telegraph accusing China of hiding the true scale of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With shock it reported the reopening of the ‘wet’ markets which were identified as the cause of the spread of virus,” he said.

“An epidemiological model at the University of Southampton found that had China acted responsibly just one, two or three weeks more quickly, the number affected by virus would have been cut by 66 percent, 86 percent and 95 percent respectively. Its failure has unleashed a global contagion killing thousands,” the cardinal claimed.

Bo said that although many governments failed to prepare for the coronavirus when the first reports of the disease emerged from Wuhan, there was “one government that has primary responsibility, as a result of what it has done and what it has failed to do, and that is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime in Beijing.”

“Let me be clear – it is the CCP that has been responsible, not the people of China, and no one should respond to this crisis with racial hatred towards the Chinese,” Bo clarified. “Indeed, the Chinese people were the first victims of this virus and have long been the primary victims of their repressive regime. They deserve our sympathy, our solidarity and our support. But it is the repression, the lies and the corruption of the CCP that are responsible.”

The cardinal then went on to list a series of failures by the communist regime in addressing the crisis: Authorities suppressed the news and silenced whistleblowers; the government refused initial offers of help from the international community; and he accused the communist party of conducting a misinformation campaign on the origins of the virus.

“Lies and propaganda have put millions of lives around the world in danger,” Bo said.

“The CCP’s conduct is symptomatic of its increasingly repressive nature. In recent years we have seen an intense crackdown on freedom of expression in China. Lawyers, bloggers, dissidents and civil society activists have been rounded up and have disappeared. In particular, the regime has launched a campaign against religion, resulting in the destruction of thousands of churches and crosses and the incarceration of at least one million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps,” the cardinal continued.

Bo said that Myanmar is “extremely vulnerable” to the COVID-19 coronavirus, since it borders China.

“We are a poor nation, without the health and social care resources that more developed nations have. Hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar are displaced by conflict, living in camps in the country or on our borders without adequate sanitation, medicines or care,” he explained.

“In such over-crowded camps the ‘social distancing’ measures implemented by many countries are impossible to apply. The healthcare systems in the most advanced countries in the world are overwhelmed, so imagine the dangers in a poor and conflict-ridden country like Myanmar,” the cardinal said.

Bos said through its “inhumane and irresponsible handling of the coronavirus” the Chinese communist regime “has proven what many previously thought: that it is a threat to the world.”

“China as a country is a great and ancient civilization that has contributed so much to the world throughout history,” the cardinal continued, “but this regime is responsible, through its criminal negligence and repression, for the pandemic sweeping through our streets today.”