Australia gets ‘slap to the face’ as global community welcomes China-sponsored resolution on COVID-19

By Chen Qingqing and Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/19 18:32:47

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Photo: IC

China is one of the co-sponsors of the proposed resolution at the 73rd World Health Assembly, which is entirely different from the so-called independent inquiry demanded by Australia, and is in fact a review of the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 response in order to draw lessons from it, instead of specially targeting any country based on a presumption of guilt, a Chinese official said on Tuesday. More calls have also emerged, urging some Western countries like Australia to stop politicizing the issue and act in line with the global consensus. 

Along with other countries, China has been actively taking part in negotiations on this resolution, which clearly recognizes and supports the leadership of the WHO amid the pandemic, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a routine press conference on Tuesday. 

"It is a totally different thing from the so-called independent inquiry pushed by the Australian side," Zhao said, noting that the resolution calls for preventing discrimination and smearing campaigns and taking measures to counter disinformation, working on affordable diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines, all of which are in line with the Chinese position. 

They are also the shared wishes of the majority of countries, and as a result, the Chinese side has taken part in jointly proposing the draft resolution and we hope that it will be approved at the WHA and be carried out comprehensively and correctly, he said. 

This is a slap to 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, said analysts. Such moves, clearly backed by Washington, are doomed to fail, "as the US itself has also been marginalized and isolated at the WHA," an expert on global affairs surnamed Huang told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Australia has been actively pushing for a so-called independent inquiry into the origins of the crisis. Some Australian officials have been actively demanding such a probe into China, such as Australia's foreign minister Marise Payne, who was quoted as saying in a Reuters report on Sunday that her concerns about China's transparency were at "a very high point." Newsweek also noted in a recent story that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in a bullish mood, sparking trade disputes with China as the so-called inquiry angered Beijing. 

Some Australian media see this as a move aimed at further pressuring China and seeking to hold Beijing accountable for the outbreak, calling for Beijing to face overwhelming global pressure for the COVID-19 inquiry. And Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton was quoted as saying in media reports that "Australia's done nothing more than stand up for our values and we will consistently do that."

Some Chinese netizens also mocked Australia's attempts as it has been trying to become a martyr for defending so-called independence and transparency while its ideas are denounced by the global community. By following the steps of some US hawks who harshly attack China over coronavirus, "it seems that Australia, this giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the US, will hit a deadlock with China on trade disputes in sectors like coal and beef. Hopefully, the US will compensate it!" one netizen said in a Weibo post on Tuesday.  

This attempt by some Western politicians to politicize a routine post-epidemic evaluation as part of their efforts to boost anti-China rhetoric has been officially denounced, as the global community won't accept an unfair and unscientific appeal, some analysts said, noting that its attempts and delusion would be doomed. 

More than 100 countries reportedly formed a coalition to come up with a draft resolution, first proposed by the EU and later supported by countries like Australia and Russia, calling for support from all countries for their request to implement a multi-sector action plan in strengthening their health systems against the COVID-19 pandemic, working collaboratively at all levels to develop and scale up effective and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics, medicine and vaccines, according to the resolution.

It also called for the use of existing mechanisms to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19. However, this initiative has been misinterpreted by some Western politicians and media outlets as being a probe into China's initial handling of the outbreak.

China also welcomes Australia to completely abandon politicizing the pandemic and come back to the generally shared consensus by international community, Zhao noted. 

This evaluation aims to sum up experiences and draw lessons from the handling of the public health crisis, which is also the routine practice for the WHO following a major pandemic, according to officials and experts. 

For instance, the WHO previously conducted a post-epidemic evaluation of the H1N1 response and Ebola. "Such an evaluation requires a gradual, impartial, justified, independent and comprehensive process, which should not be interpreted out of context," Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Australia is playing the loyal deputy to the US in slandering China, Yu Lei, a chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries with Liaocheng University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"It also mistakenly thought that China would be isolated by the international community at the WHA and wanted to bring Taiwan into the body. Australia also thought its proposal would get recognition from most of the WHO member states, but the reality tells the opposite," Yu said.

The proposal, which takes in most member states' advice and shows support for an independent and fair investigation into the virus' origins, is what the international community wants, the expert said, noting that this is a huge blow to Australia and it needs to reflect on its diplomatic policies toward China.


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