By H.E. Dr. Xu Hong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China.
Recently, certain countries have called for an “independent international investigation” on issues such as whether COVID-19 originated in a laboratory in Wuhan and China’s initial response to the pandemic. In my view, this is nothing but another political trick to mislead the public and stigmatize China.
However China is open to scientific cooperation on matters such as tracing the origin of the novel coronavirus. After sequencing and sharing with the world the genome of the new virus at full speed, China has maintained good communication with the World Health Organization and other countries. Scientists around the world, including top US expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, share the consensus that the virus originated from nature rather than a laboratory in Wuhan. Those who made such claims are only a handful of politicians who have demonstrated little respect for science, and have not been backed up even by their own intelligence agencies.
Tracing the origin of a virus is a complicated and rigorous process, in which scientific principles should be followed. We should leave these tasks to scientists instead of presupposing conclusions for political purposes.
It should be noted that the place where COVID-19 was first reported is not necessarily the origin of the virus. More and more cases are being discovered outside China, which suggests the disease might have appeared in other countries earlier than people thought. For example, an American mayor claimed to have been infected with the virus as early as last November. The specific types of virus found in China, the US and Europe are also different, making it necessary for the tracing work to be carried out on a global scale, instead of just focusing on China.
Therefore, in order for the effort to succeed, we hope all countries concerned can be open to such cooperation.
Of course, experiences and lessons from this pandamic should be learned at both international and domestic levels. Therefore, in addition to being open to international cooperation to find out the origin of the virus, China has also expressed support for relevant international review with the coordination of the WHO.
China has nothing to hide or be shameful of in how it handled the pandemic. Giving top priority to people’s lives and health, China has fulfilled its obligations under the International Health Regulations. People from around the world and relevant international organizations such as the WHO have expressed their admiration in China’s efforts in containing the virus and engaging in international assistance and cooperation.
The work of international review shall follow the principles of equality, objectivity and fairness, with the goal of improving global health governance and be conducted at an appropriate time when the global pandemic has been effectively brought under control.
At present, all countries should concentrate on stepping up international solidarity to contain the pandemic as soon as possible. This is the consensus of the vast majority of members of the international community, including China and the Netherlands.
China supports international scientific cooperation and professional review, but firmly opposes any dirty political trick for political gains under the disguise of an “international investigation”.
We all remember the one on Iraq in search of “weapons of massive destruction”, prior to US’s invasion of the country in 2003. Certain politicians seem to be orchestrating the same trick again.
In their scenario, China is the “guilty one”, and an “international investigation” will produce “proof” for final conviction and basis for compensation. Their true aim is to deflect from their failure in response to the pandemic and stay in power.
From a legal perspective, such an approach has serious flaws and will be rejected by countries and conscionable persons upholding the international rule of law.
Firstly, to trigger such an “international investigation” against a certain country for the purpose of accountability, there must be sufficient grounds to make the case that the country has committed “international wrongful acts”. Secondly, any investigation shall be duly authorized by mandated international mechanisms, meet relevant requirements and follow due procedures. Otherwise, such an act will severely harm the existing international order.
The government trying to hype this issue should first reflect on its own behavior: has it fulfilled its “responsibility to protect” its own people? Why it has been creating obstacles to block international cooperation, such as withholding funding for international organizations? How many secrets are being kept in the dark? Before we talk about an “independent investigation” on China, the world deserves to know the answers to these questions.
In the picture, the Ambassador of China H.E. Dr. Xu Hong. (Den Haag 09-01-20) Foto: Frank Jansen