China Hijacks Call for Independent Probe of Coronavirus Origins

Chinas President Xi Jinping speaks to Russia's President Vladimir Putin via a video link, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 2, 2019. (Photo by Noel CELIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NOEL CELIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
NOEL CELIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

After weeks of howling that calls for an international investigation of the Wuhan coronavirus were nothing but political dirty tricks intended to scapegoat China for the failure of other governments to manage the pandemic effectively – and effectively declaring economic war on Australia for daring to demand such an investigation – the Chinese delegation to the World Health Assembly (WHA) suddenly decided on Tuesday to co-sponsor a resolution calling for an independent review.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) noted that China went to great lengths to demonstrate that it was not giving in to pressure from Australia by co-sponsoring the WHA resolution, even though the resolution largely tracks with demands made by Australia, including language toughened at Australia’s request beyond what the European Union originally wanted:

After weeks of high-stakes negotiations, accusations of a Washington-smear campaign and trade strikes on Australia, China’s decision to co-sponsor the resolution means it will pass with full consensus at the meeting of the assembly on Tuesday night.

China had opposed Australia’s calls for an independent global inquiry, but has now insisted the motion it will co-sponsor is vastly different to Canberra’s position.

The motion was originally put forward by the European Union, but after negotiations with a number of countries, including Australia, it was strengthened to explicitly state the review should be “impartial, independent and comprehensive”. Australia lobbied the United States and the United Kingdom to join the resolution last week.

The final text of the key clause establishing an independent review is the same as a second draft published by the EU and backed by Australia on the weekend.

The Chinese embassy to Australia sneered that Canberra’s claims to have pushed the WHA, governing body of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), into investigating both the origins of the Wuhan virus and W.H.O.’s problematic response to the pandemic were a “joke.”

“It is a totally different thing from the so-called independent inquiry pushed by the Australian side,” insisted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who still has his job after peddling a deranged conspiracy theory that the coronavirus is an American bio-weapon spread to Wuhan by the U.S. Army.

The SMH noticed Chinese state media went even further and hailed Chinese support for an independent investigation a “slap in the face to countries like Australia – the most active player in pushing forward a so-called independent probe into China over the coronavirus outbreak, which was then rejected by the international community.”

The editorial referenced by the SHM appeared on Tuesday in China’s Global Times, which insisted the inquiry supported by China is “entirely different from the so-called independent inquiry demanded by Australia, and is in fact a review of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] response in order to draw lessons from it, instead of specially targeting any country based on a presumption of guilt.”

The Global Times also cast China’s action at the WHA as a defeat for the United States, which it claims has “also been marginalized and isolated at the WHA.” 

The editorial found some “Chinese netizens” with quotable insults directed at the Australians, including one who called them a “giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the U.S.,” and tossed in some threats at Canberra that it can only end China’s trade war against it by agreeing to “completely abandon politicizing the pandemic.”

In fact, the SMH cited reports that Chinese officials are making lists of more Australian exports they can hit with punitive tariffs, trumped-up investigations, and state-coordinated “consumer boycotts” if the Aussies do not back away from their calls for a relentless probe of the coronavirus.

This would suggest the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is confident it has completely hijacked the investigation and can use the W.H.O. once again to parrot its propaganda about noble China’s courageous leadership against the pandemic it bears absolutely no responsibility for spreading, while silencing skeptics like Australia by claiming it gave them the investigation they demanded.

Chinese dictator Xi Jinping told the WHA on Monday that although his government has been fully “transparent” all along, he supports an independent investigation of the coronavirus – but not until some future date when the pandemic is completely under control, so China might be able to pull off claiming it supports an investigation while stalling it for months or years.

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