Pictures and video of the weekend electronic music party in Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged in December 2019 have gone viral, attracting a huge negative response in places where lockdowns are still in effect.
Global condemnation was typical of some mainstream news headlines this week, while comments on social media sites were more colourfully frank.
One Twitter user called the event “incredibly irresponsible”, while another suggested there was “no way” it would not lead to more cases of coronavirus. But China’s nationalist Global Times newspaper hit back against what it called “Sour Grapes” abroad.
Meanwhile, China on Thursday said that the pool party showed the city’s “strategic victory” against the outbreak, and said the images were proof the country’s approach to controlling the virus had been successful.
“I saw relevant reports and it is said that people in Europe and America were very shocked. This shows that Wuhan has won a strategic victory in its fight against the epidemic”, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press briefing on Thursday.
Zhao called on the media to “report the real situation in China” so people abroad could understand the country’s fight against the epidemic.
China has come under fire from around the world since the outbreak of the virus, which has infected over 22 million people and killed nearly 800,000.
Beijing has denied US accusations that China covered up the initial outbreak and handled it badly.