Chinese officials gathered in Beijing on Tuesday to honour those at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus in the country [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

Chinese President Xi Jinping has defended his country’s handling of the coronavirus saying Beijing acted in an open and transparent manner, and that it had taken concrete efforts that helped save tens of millions of lives around the world during the pandemic.

Speaking at a ceremony honouring those at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, Xi declared on Tuesday that China was the first large economy to return to growth during the pandemic – a fact he said demonstrates the country’s strong abilities and vitality.

China has been facing intense criticism by several countries, including the United States

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