No sooner had China’s President Xi Jinping said it would agree to an inquiry sought by most of the world into the coronavirus pandemic on the condition it was run by the World Health Organization (WHO), it landed a savage below the belt attack on Australia, which had proposed the inquiry.
China’s Department of Commerce announced an 80% tariff on the import of Australian barley less than an hour after Xi announced to the World Health Assembly his conditional support for a COVID-19 probe.
Xi addressing the World Heath Assembly by videolink said: “China supports the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19 after it is brought under control, to sum up experiences and deficiencies.”
“This work should be based on science and professionalism, led by the WHO and conducted in an objective and impartial manner,” Xi added.
More than 110 countries co-sponsored a motion by the Australian government at the World Health Assembly, calling for an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic.
The Chinese embassy in Australia then inexplicably lashed out at claims it has backed down over the COVID-19 investigation under heavy international pressure.
“The draft resolution on COVID-19 to be adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) is totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent review,” a spokesman said.
“A close look at the draft itself can easily come to such a conclusion.
“All those who know the consultation process that led to the resolution understand this.
“To claim the WHA’s resolution is a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke.”
Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said of the inquiry motion: “We should be damn proud Australia is now leading the world.”
He said the probe should look at health risks from wildlife wet markets, where the virus is likely to have originated in Wuhan, China.
“We need to learn the lessons from this pandemic and ensure we have the strongest possible global health architecture, with an enhanced ability to prevent and respond to future outbreaks,” said Hunt.
US President Donald Trump again backed Australia’s push for a World Health Organization (WHO) probe into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are with them,” he said as he retweeted an SBS News tweet on the growing global support for Australia’s bid for an inquiry. Australia and the European Union’s motion demands an independent inquiry into the Chinese origin of COVID-19 “at the earliest appropriate moment”.
Trump again lambasted the World Health Organization as a “puppet of China” as he released a letter he had sent to the Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and threatened removing the US from the global health agency.
Trump’s letter states that if the WHO “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership of the organization.”
Trump said the World Health Organization, a United Nations agency, “gave us a lot of very bad advice, terrible advice” and were “wrong so much and always on the side of China”.
“Throughout this crisis, the World Health Organization has been curiously insistent on praising China for its alleged ‘transparency.’ You have consistently joined in these tributes, notwithstanding that China has been anything but transparent. In early January, for example, China ordered samples of the virus to be destroyed, depriving the world of critical information. Even now, China continues to undermine the International Health Regulations by refusing to share accurate and timely data, viral samples and isolates, and by withholding vital information about the virus and its origins. And, to this day, China continues to deny international access to their scientists and relevant facilities, all while casting blame widely and recklessly and censoring its own experts,” Trump tells Dr Tedros, who he appeared to attack personally.
“On January 14, 2020, the World Health Organization gratuitously reaffirmed China’s now-debunked claim that the coronavirus could not be transmitted between humans, stating: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) identified in Wuhan, China.” This assertion was in direct conflict with censored reports from Wuhan.
“On January 21, 2020, President Xi Jinping of China reportedly pressured you not to declare the coronavirus outbreak an emergency. You gave in to this pressure the next day and told the world that the coronavirus did not pose a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Just over one week later, on January 30, 2020, overwhelming evidence to the contrary forced you to reverse course.
“On January 28, 2020, after meeting with President Xi in Beijing, you praised the Chinese government for its “transparency” with respect to the coronavirus, announcing that China had set a “new standard for outbreak control” and “bought the world time.” You did not mention that China had, by then, silenced or punished several doctors for speaking out about the virus and restricted Chinese institutions from publishing information about it.
“On March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization cited official Chinese data to downplay the very serious risk of asymptomatic spread, telling the world that “COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza” and that unlike influenza this disease was not primarily driven by “people who are infected but not yet sick.” China’s evidence, the World Health Organization told the world, “showed that only one percent of reported cases do not have symptoms, and most of those cases develop symptoms within two days.” Many experts, however, citing data from Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere, vigorously questioned these assertions. It is now clear that China’s assertions, repeated to the world by the World Health Organization, were wildly inaccurate.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China. My Administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste. That is why it is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization. I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.”
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020