The German government hasn’t billed China for “coronavirus damages”

20 April 2020
What was claimed

Germany has sent a bill to China for “coronavirus damages”.

Our verdict

Incorrect. A German newspaper drew up a mock bill but the German government has not sent a bill, as suggested.

“Germany sends China £130billion bill for 'coronavirus damages'.”

Daily Express, 20 April 2020

An article on the Daily Express website claiming that “Germany” has sent a bill of £130 billion to China for “coronavirus damages” contains several inaccuracies suggesting the German government sent the bill. 

As well as referring to Germany sending the bill in the headline, the article subheading says Berlin issued the invoice, the piece uses a photo of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and it puts her name in the url.

The bill was actually mocked up by Germany’s largest newspaper, Bild, which assessed the “damages” to its economy from the virus to total €149 billion (£130 billion).

The Express does say in the first paragraph that the bill was drawn up by a “major newspaper”, but the suggestion from the headline, subheading and photograph means that anyone glancing at the piece would assume the German government had sent the bill. Screenshots of the headline have also been shared in isolation on social media.

The German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Mass has said the idea of billing China is “illusory”.

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