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Restaurant in China hangs banner celebrating spread of deadly coronavirus in US, Japan

Some commuters at Union Station adorn breathing masks. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times/TNS)
March 26, 2020

A restaurant in China has drawn controversy after hanging a banner appearing to celebrate the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. and Japan.

The banner, which was pictured on social media, was written in Chinese characters and reportedly said “Congratulations on the epidemic in the U.S.! We wish the epidemic in dwarf Japan will last forever and ever!”

The Chinese state-run outlet Global Times also reported on the banner and similarly translated the banner’s message as, “Celebrating the epidemic in the US and wishing coronavirus a nice trip to Japan.”

The Global Times reported that “Mother Yang’s porridge restaurant” in Shenyang, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, was the one responsible for hanging the banner. The Chinese outlet reported the restaurant later apologized for the banner on China’s Twitter alternative platform, Sina Weibo, and said the manager at the time had hung the banner without their permission.

“We apologize for the negative social influence caused by our employee,” the restaurant said.

The restaurant said the controversial banner was only up for about 90 minutes before it was taken down by police. Police reportedly detained the manager of the restaurant and the restaurant later fired him.

The coronavirus has been deadly and the U.S. has seen more than 1,000 fatal cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus case tracking map. Japan has seen 47 fatal cases.

The controversy comes as some Chinese officials have actually blamed the U.S. for the virus, which first appeared in Wuhan, China. On March 12, Lijian Zhao, the spokesperson and Deputy Director General for the Information Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, insinuated the U.S. Army brought the virus to Wuhan.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently criticized Chinese officials for spreading misinformation alleging U.S. culpability in the spread of the coronavirus.

Recent reports have indicated Chinese health workers warned about the severity of the coronavirus outbreak around when it first began, but that Chinese police detained several doctors and whistleblowers and ordered information documenting the coronavirus to be destroyed.

The World Health Organization also repeated claims from China, that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.