The Chinese Communist Party, which has been roundly criticized for downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, said Monday it would cooperate with an independent investigation into the worldwide response to the pandemic being pushed by more than 100 countries.
The 27 members of the European Union, along with Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and New Zealand, are on board with Australia for an independent inquiry into the pandemic that has killed more than 315,000 people worldwide and infected more than 4.7 million.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she was encouraged to see that more than 110 countries, including Russia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Britain and Canada, support the investigation.
“I think what it illustrates is a broad view that given the experience of COVID-19 — over 300,000 deaths, millions of people around the world losing their jobs, the impact on economies from one corner of the globe to the other — that there is a strong view that it is appropriate to engage in a review of what has happened,” Payne said.
“I think it’s a win for the international community,” she continued, according to Australian media reports.
The EU resolution said the investigation should be initiated at the “earliest appropriate moment” and should also examine “the actions” of the World Health Organization and “their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
President Trump said he was behind the investigation, tweeting: “We are with them!”
The president has cut US funding for the United Nations health agency until a review is completed into the WHO’s relationship with China in the early days of the outbreak.
Last week, he reportedly was considering restoring partial funding to the embattled global organization, but a new report by Axios details a renewed commitment by the president to keep the WHO in the cold.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said he backs an investigation into the “global response” once the pandemic is brought under control.
“China supports a comprehensive evaluation of the global response to the epidemic after the global epidemic is under control, to sum up experiences and remedy deficiencies,” Xi told the World Health Assembly in a video speech.
“This work needs a scientific and professional attitude, and needs to be led by the WHO; and the principles of objectivity and fairness need to be upheld.”
Xi also defended his country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak following the first reported cases in Wuhan, China, in December and said Beijing would provide $2 billion over the next two years to fight the pandemic.
In his speech to the assembly meeting in Geneva, Xi claimed China provided relevant data to the WHO and other countries around the world, including the genetic sequence of the coronavirus.
“We have shared control and treatment experience with the world without reservation,” he said. “We have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need.”
The WHO on Jan. 30 declared a global health emergency — its highest alert level — but still described the spread of the coronavirus as “limited.”
On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic.
The resolutions are expected to be voted on Tuesday by the assembly.
With Post wires