The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) responded with fury on Tuesday to the Australian government’s call for an investigation into the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus, with the Chinese embassy denouncing Australian lawmakers as puppets of the United States.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Tuesday evening’s productive phone calls between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the leaders of France and Germany, and U.S. President Donald Trump:
Morrison said on Twitter he had “a very constructive discussion” with Trump on the two nation’s health responses to Covid-19 and the need to get economies up and running.
“We also talked about the WHO & working together to improve the transparency & effectiveness of the international responses to pandemics,” he tweeted.
Morrison also spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron by phone, his office said. The White House has been fiercely critical of China and the WHO, and has withdrawn US funding from the United Nations agency.
Senior Australian lawmakers have also called for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, and questioned Beijing’s transparency over a pandemic now paralyzing the world.
“The issues around the coronavirus are issues for independent review, and I think that it is important that we do that. In fact, Australia will insist on that,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Sunday.
The Australian opposition expressed support for Payne and said it expected the Chinese to cooperate fully with an investigation.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Beijing-friendly response from the World Health Organization “didn’t help the world” and Australia did well against the coronavirus by ignoring WHO’s advice and making “our own decisions as a country” to ban travel from China.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra took Morrison’s conversation with Trump as evidence the U.S. president is manipulating Australia into attacking China and its proxies.
“These days, certain Australian politicians are keen to parrot what those Americans have asserted and simply follow them in staging political attacks on China,” the embassy sneered.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected Payne’s call for an investigation by claiming the Australian foreign minister disrespected “the Chinese people’s tremendous efforts and sacrifices” by questioning the CCP’s honesty.
“Any question about China’s transparency in the prevention and control of epidemic situation is not in line with facts,” Chinese Foreign Minister Geng Shuang said.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg pushed back against China’s “unwanted and unjustified” smear of Australian lawmakers as puppets dancing on Donald Trump’s string, but insisted his country still has a “good relationship at the commercial level with China” despite the political turbulence.
As the SCMP noted, the ice had already grown fairly thin between China and Australia before the coronavirus swept out of Wuhan to cripple the world. The Australians have (very credibly) accused China of meddling in their politics, suppressing the speech of Chinese people living on Australian soil, and asserting imperialistic control over the South China Sea. Australian warships are currently participating in joint exercises with the U.S. Navy to curb Chinese aggression in contested waters.
The Australians have been among the most outspoken critics of China’s dangerous refusal to close the “wet markets” seen as spawning grounds for viral pandemics, and of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) baffling endorsement of the wet markets reopening. Australia has backed America’s questioning of both the Chinese government and WHO for their handling of the Wuhan virus outbreak. Australia was the first country to block China’s Huawei telecom giant from supplying equipment for its 5G network.