OPINION / EDITORIAL
WHO’s virus origins tracing should never yield to US political pressure: Global Times editorial
Published: Jul 16, 2021 08:23 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui

Illustration: Liu Rui

During a briefing at the agency on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China needs to be more open and transparent and provide more raw data regarding the first days in which the novel coronavirus was discovered. He said WHO had developed a framework for moving forward with the second phase of the investigation into where COVID-19 came from. The WHO chief said the agency and its member states have continued engaging with China to get the answers and he believes there will be better cooperation in the future. 

Based on Ghebreyesus' remarks, it's not difficult to find that he has been under tremendous pressure from the US and the West. At least at the public opinion level, he has focused people's attention on the virus' origin tracing on China. This is exactly what Washington expects. WHO shouldn't succumb to the US pressure to politicize the origins tracing. People hope to see insistence on scientific spirits and morality from the WHO. 

Now the whole world has seen that the COVID-19 origins tracing has been severely politicized. It's as obvious as the sudden emergence of the Delta variant and the change of the world's anti-pandemic situation the new variant has brought. WHO as the most authoritative UN public health agency should publicly announce to resist any attempt to politicize the tracing of the virus origins together with most scientists around the world. Should not this unhealthy trend be curbed, the origins tracing cannot truly follow a scientific track, and even will be suffocated by politicization.  

The WHO expert team has carried out virus origins tracing in China and issued a report. Be it from the perspective of scientific rationality or common sense, the tracing work in the next phase should be extended to a wider scope, especially to the US, which is severely hit by the virus and has reported early COVID-19 infections. 

Permanent representatives from 48 countries to the United Nations Office at Geneva on Thursday addressed Ghebreyesus, voicing their support to advance the study of origins of the coronavirus globally and opposition against the politicization of the origins-tracing. They also said in the joint letter that they welcome the joint research report issued by the WHO with China and the report should serve as foundation and guideline for global virus origins tracing. 

The WHO should jump out from behind the public opinion smokescreen created by the US and its allies. It needs to listen to the voices of the wider international community. The world cannot be dominated by a small number of developed countries. Fairness and justice are critical in the public health field that involves people's lives. The attitude and willingness of developing countries should be equally respected. 

The virus origins tracing must be carried out worldwide. However, such a basic epidemiological principle has been abruptly overturned by the US. The US wants to turn the process of tracing the virus into a political campaign against China, which has now become assumed knowledge for all global actors. The world should resist the US' attempt of politicizing the pandemic and restore a scientific and orderly fight against the pandemic. Otherwise, the pandemic will intensify a political melee, leading to a tragic fragmentation of the world. 

Chinese society will not accept Washington's hegemonic and hooligan practices, nor will it allow an insulting probe based on the presumption of guilt, which is a serious violation of China's sovereignty.   

US President Joe Biden ordered the country's intelligence community to investigate whether the virus originated from laboratory and come up with a conclusion. It's widely believed his target was the Wuhan lab. Washington's arrogance is not only directed at China, but also the WHO. We hope the agency will stiffen its resolve, push back against being kidnapped by the US and its allies and refuse to court their favor. The WHO shouldn't compromise their attitude of treating the Chinese people equally. 

Just as Ghebreyesus said, "We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened," but, no forces can put such moral responsibilities on China. Only 4,636 people in China died from COVID-19. Why has the US witnessed more than 600,000 deaths? Why have tens of, or hundreds of thousands of people died in European developed countries whose populations are equivalent to only the number in a province of China? It will be absurd to turn finding the answers to the dead into a frame-up against China. This will irritate all the Chinese people and will be strongly reproached. 

Only a truly scientific and reasonable origins tracing which is out of goodwill can win the Chinese people's respect and cooperation from all walks of the Chinese society. Since the origins tracing in China have been completed in January, the WHO expert team should now first go to the US and other suspected countries and regions to conduct probes. We will never accept investigations that only target China. We hope WHO firmly resist Washington's attempt to use the agency as a tool. If Washington wants to have a more intensified political confrontation with China, it should do by itself. 


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