Paul McCartney has urged China to close its “medieval” and “obscene” wet markets, which have been blamed for the coronavirus outbreak.
The 77-year-old former Beatle, who is vegetarian, appeared to criticise China’s government and the country’s eating habits.
Wet markets typically sell fresh food including vegetables, fruit and meats but some Chinese markets have been criticised for displaying and selling dead and live wild animals including snakes and bats.
Animal rights activists say such markets are a breeding ground for diseases. One in Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, is widely believed to have been where the coronavirus originated from.
"I really hope that this will mean that the Chinese government will say, 'OK, guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here.' Let's face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats,” Mr McCartney told radio station Sirius XM.
He appeared to suggest wet markets were to blame for other deadly disease outbreaks in the past.
"It seems like SARS, avian flu, all sorts of other stuff that has afflicted us, and what's it for? For these quite medieval practices, Mr McCartney said.
“They (the Chinese authorities) need to clean up their act. This may lead to it. If this doesn't, I don't know what will,” he added.
The singer is self-isolating in the south-east of England with is daughter, while his wife is in New York and unable to join them in the UK because of travel restrictions. Mr McCartney admitted the situation was “scary” but described the way communities have pulled together during the pandemic as “inspiring”.
Asked by host Howard Stern if petitions to stop the practice of wet markets was the right thing to do, Mr McCartney said: “I think it makes a lot of sense … when you’ve got the obscenity of some of the stuff that’s going on there and what comes out of it, they might as well be letting off atomic bombs. It’s affecting the whole world.
“I understand that part of it is going to be: people have done it for ever, this is the way we do things. But they did slavery forever, too. You’ve got to change things at some point.”