A prominent Iranian lawmaker has called for China\u2019s ambassador to Tehran to be summoned to the foreign ministry in an escalation of the row between the two countries over coronavirus.\r\nAli Motahari, a prominent Iranian MP, said on Thursday that China\u2019s ambassador should be summoned to the foreign ministry. The ambassador had previously scolded an Iranian ministry spokesman who had questioned China\u2019s coronavirus figures.\r\nIranian health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour\u00a0called China\u2019s coronavirus numbers \u201ca bitter joke\u201d\u00a0at a press conference earlier this week, adding that the Chinese government\u2019s reporting on the virus was misleading to the rest of the world.\r\n\u201cThe Ministry of Health of China has a press conference every day. I suggest that you read their news carefully in order to draw conclusions,\u201d the Chinese ambassador to Tehran Chang Hua responded to Jahanpour on Twitter.\r\n\u201cThe Chinese ambassador\u2019s rudeness must be answered. The foreign ministry must summon him,\u201d outspoken lawmaker Ali Motahari tweeted on Thursday.\r\nChina is a key ally of Iran and its foremost trading partner . The Islamic Republic considers China, as well as Russia, as its closest allies in its conflict with western powers.\r\n\u201cUnfortunately, our economic dependence on China has also led us to remain silent about the Chinese government\u2019s great oppression of the country\u2019s Muslims. Our fight against America was not supposed to lead to China-dependency,\u201d he added in the same tweet.\r\nJahanpour came under attack from pro-regime users on social media for his exchange with Hua, with calls to have him sacked from the health ministry.\r\nOther Iranians on social media, however, found Hua\u2019s tone disrespectful and condescending, and accused the Islamic Republic of behaving like a Chinese colony.\r\nIran\u2019s economic ties with China have deepened since Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran in 2018.