China’s UN envoy: Beat virus before probing its origins
China will not invite international experts to investigate the source of COVID-19 until the “final victory” over the virus, Beijing’s UN ambassador in Geneva said Wednesday.
China’s priority is first beating the pandemic — and secondly countering the “absurd and ridiculous” US politicization of the new coronavirus, Chen Xu told reporters in an online briefing.
Asked when the WHO could expect an invitation, Chen replied: “The top priority, for the time being, is to focus on the fight against the pandemic until we win the final victory.
“It’s not that we are allergic to any kind of investigations, inquiries or evaluations,” he said, as they could aid international efforts to prepare for future public health emergencies.
“For whether or how the invitation will take place, we need to have the right priority setting at this moment, and on the other hand, we need the right atmosphere.”
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, said later that a proper investigation was “critical”.
“Without knowing where the animal origin is, it’s difficult for us to detect and prevent this from happening again,” she told a virtual press conference in Geneva.
She said talks were ongoing with Beijing on a mission that would “really focus on what happened in the beginning”.
“We look forward to that happening,” she added.
US mindset ‘constant problem’
US President Donald Trump has been increasingly critical of China, saying last week that he had seen evidence linking COVID-19 to a maximum-security virology lab in Wuhan and threatening new trade tariffs.
“It’s really alarming for a high-ranking official… to air views like this,” countered Chen.
“Some of the American politicians, the mindset is a constant problem. They adopted an approach that is against anything from China.
“We cannot allow this kind of political virus to spread freely without any curbing.
“We need to focus firstly to save lives, secondly to stop the political virus.”
Chen said Trump and Pompeo’s allegations about the source of the virus were simply them trying to “shift responsibility.”
“The purpose is only deflection of their own failure at this moment to curb the spreading of the virus in the United States,” the ambassador said.
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