China renewed its backing of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) on Wednesday, with a senior Chinese diplomat saying there will be no inspection of the Wuhan origins of the coronavirus until Beijing says so – and only then after the pandemic is beaten.
“First things first: The top priority for the time being is to focus on the fight against the pandemic,” said Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to U.N. institutions in Geneva, when asked during an online briefing about the timing of a possible invitation for a W.H.O. team. “We need the right focus and allocation of our resources.”
“So it’s not we are allergic to any kind of investigations, inquiries or evaluations,” he said, “as long as it will be beneficial to the international efforts.”
Chen lamented the diplomatic atmosphere had been tainted by “politically-motivated” accusations against China, “smearing, demonising” its handling of the initial outbreak.
The diplomat offered full support to the U.N. subsidiary health agency and insisted there was no question of its director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus having been “influenced by China.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has been increasingly critical of China’s bungled handling of the coronavirus pandemic while singling out the close alliance between the W.H.O. and China as an impediment to the global understanding of the viral threat:C-SPAN
The W.H.O. says it is waiting on an invitation from China to take part in any investigations into the animal origins of the virus, first reported in the city of Wuhan in December.
The revelation came amid a growing international backlash against China’s “wolf warrior” diplomats, who have launched an aggressive push-back against governments calling for an independent investigation into the outbreak that has killed more than 250,000 people across the world and plunged economies into a global recession.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday renewed his criticism of Beijing’s handling of the outbreak, as Breitbart News reported.
“China could have spared the world a descent into global economic malaise. They had a choice but instead – instead – China covered up the outbreak in Wuhan,” Pompeo told reporters.
“China is still refusing to share the information we need to keep people safe,” Pompeo added.U.S. Department of Sate / Facebook
For its part, Chinese state media outlets published several reports on Tuesday and Wednesday hinting at a malign foreign, Western origin for the Chinese coronavirus, including confirmation of cases in California in February and remarks by a New Jersey mayor who said he felt sick last year.
This is despite the official People’s Daily in China publishing an article on January 27 titled “Experts Confirm Wuhan Seafood Market Was Source of Novel Coronavirus.”
“China Center for Disease Control reported on Sunday that 33 out of the 585 samples collected from the seafood market tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus which caused the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan,” the article read.
“The virus was confirmed to have come from the wildlife sold at the market,” the article concluded.
AFP contributed to this story