China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has accused the US of spreading "conspiracies and lies" about the coronavirus pandemic, ratcheting up tensions between the two nations, it was reported.
Speaking at an annual news conference during China's parliamentary session on Sunday, Wang said that "some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage," the BBC reported.
He did not specify what those forces were, but said they were trying to "push our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War."
"Aside from the devastation caused by the novel coronavirus, there is also a political virus spreading through the US," he said.
"This political virus is the use of every opportunity to attack and smear China.
"Some politicians completely disregard basic facts and have fabricated too many lies targeting China, and plotted too many conspiracies," the BBC quoted Wang as saying.
But he called for co-operation between Washington and Beijing in tackling the outbreak. "Both of us bear a major responsibility for world peace and development… China and the US stand to gain from co-operation, and lose from confrontation."
US President Donald Trump and China have traded repeated barbs in recent weeks, on issues from the World Health Organization (WHO) to potential lawsuits against Beijing over its alleged cover-up of the outbreak.
The two world powers have experienced longstanding friction over issues such as trade and human rights, but tensions have risen dramatically amid the pandemic, said the BBC report.
On Sunday, Wang said the suggestion that US states could bring legal action against China was "a daydream" and lacked any precedent.
He also defended the WHO and its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has been the target of recent US criticism.
Last week, President Trump accused the WHO of being a "puppet of China" that had let COVID-19 spin "out of control" at the cost of "many lives."
He then shared a letter he had sent to Tedros, which outlined specific issues the US had regarding the WHO's COVID-19 response.
The coronavirus pandemic first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December and was widely reported to have originated in a food market.
Since then, however, some senior US politicians have suggested that the source was a research facility in Wuhan that had been carrying out research on bat coronaviruses.
China has dismissed the idea..