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World Backs Australia Push for COVID-19 Probe

World backs Australia push for COVID-19 probe


Australia has received international backing for an independent inquiry into coronavirus as its trade tensions with China face further strain.
A draft resolution calling for impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the responses to the pandemic has been co-sponsored by 62 countries, including India, Japan, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia, Russia and all 27 EU member states.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says it's crucial to review the events of earlier this year to avoid a repeat.

"There is positive support for an independent review into the pandemic to help the world learn the lessons necessary to protect global health," Senator Payne told The Australian.

"This is about collaborating to equip the international community to better prevent or counter the next pandemic and keep our citizens safe."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said the push for an inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 crisis is "completely unremarkable".
But China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi lashed out at foreign politicians for politicising the pandemic.

Backing for the motion comes amid worsening relations between Australia and China after Trade Minister Simon Birmingham suggested local businesses would probably start looking elsewhere to sell their products to spread their risk.

The minister also told ABC television on Sunday he had tried to contact his Chinese counterpart by phone directly to try and soothe the growing rift, but he has yet to get a return call.

China is threatening to slap a large tariff on Australian barley imports following an anti-dumping investigation, while it has blocked beef imports from four abattoirs.

Such actions have come within weeks of Australia calling for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, sparking a furious response from China.

Senator Birmingham said the government has lodged a comprehensive response to China's 18-month investigation into barley dumping, rejecting the suggestion that the Australian industry is subsidised so it can flood the market with cheaply priced barley.

He said he may be forced to take the issue to the World Trade Organisation if China presses ahead with its threat, an independent umpire Australia has used in the past to settle disputes.
https://www.9news.com.au/national/world-backs-aust-push-for-covid-19-probe/38e1556e-5142-408d-960f-65e11d1b556d

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  • hellraiser2.hellraiser2. PEx Veteran ⭐⭐

    China Faces Angry World Seeking Virus Answers at Key WHO Meeting

    At the first meeting of the World Health Organization’s governing body since Covid-19 stormed the globe, China is set to be challenged on two of its most sensitive issues: The Communist Party’s initial handling of the virus and the status of Taiwan’s participation.

    While the U.S. has launched a daily barrage of attacks on China, including suggesting the virus escaped from a laboratory in the central city of Wuhan, the European Union and Australia are set to play a key role pushing for a probe into the virus’s origin when the World Health Assembly -- the WHO’s decision making body -- gathers on Monday for an annual meeting in Geneva.

    A U.S.-backed bloc is also pushing for Taiwan, whose handling of the virus has been a rare success story, to attend the meeting as an observer. The move -- aimed at strengthening Taiwan’s official and unofficial diplomatic relationships -- has angered China, which views the island as a province and has long sought to isolate it on the world stage.

    The showdown reflects a broader geopolitical struggle pitting the U.S. and its allies against China, whose authoritarian system has come under scrutiny in the wake of a pandemic that has killed about 300,000 people and devastated the global economy. The U.S. has suspended funding for the WHO, claiming it’s biased toward China, and even suggested setting up an alternative body. 

    Yet for all the noise, most analysts expect China to command support from a large swathe of the nearly 200 countries taking part in the assembly that need good relations with the world’s second-biggest economy to shore up domestic growth. And any effort to replace the WHO is also unlikely to gain traction.

    “As much as the WHO has struggled and been the subject of criticism in this crisis, any replacement would look remarkably similar to what we have today,” said Natasha Kassam, a former Australian diplomat in China who is now a research fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. “It is hard to imagine an effective global health institution that excluded China, and it’s hard to imagine the United States making Taiwan’s participation a red line.”

    Boycott Threats

    Still, the anger in some parts of the world over China’s response to the pandemic is still fresh, and will likely play out this week. Apart from an initial cover up, the world has become increasingly upset with China’s heavy-handed response to any criticism.

    Australia in particular has felt the heat from Beijing, which threatened a boycott of its goods and also suspended meat imports from four processing plants for “technical” reasons. The government in Canberra called the boycott threats “economic coercion” and hasn’t backed down on its calls for a virus probe.

    “You can’t let the trail go cold,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on May 8. “And I think Australia and the United States and the United Kingdom and countries all around the world would like to know what happened, because we don’t want to see it happen again.”

    While the EU was still working out the wording of the proposal in the run-up to the assembly, the European Commission has said a draft resolution envisaged calling for “an independent review on lessons learned from the international health response to the coronavirus.”

    Australia has said that could happen through the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, which was set up after the Ebola crisis in 2014, and the International Health Regulations Review Committee, which assessed the response to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

    Red Line

    The building acrimony has also made more countries willing to pressure China on Taiwan, which is a red line for authorities in Beijing. President Tsai Ing-wen’s government in Taipei has made a vocal pitch to be included in the proceedings this week, saying it needs access to firsthand information about the spread of the disease.

    The WHO has said its Ethiopian director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has no mandate to offer Taiwan an invitation to the assembly because there is “no clear support” among member states. Tedros in April had accused Taiwan of being behind a racist campaign against him and Africans in general -- a charge that Taipei rejected as “slander.”

    A proposal backed by 13 member states has called for the assembly to make a call on whether Taiwan can attend. China has blocked Taiwan’s participation in the organization since the independence-leaning Tsai was elected in 2016 and refused to accept that both sides belong to “one China.”

    The U.S. is “determined” to see Taiwan participate in the meetings as an observer, with a spokesperson at the U.S. Mission in Geneva saying that lessons from its successful experience fighting Covid-19 “would be of significant benefit to the rest of the world.”

    “The People’s Republic of China would rather that success not be shared, no doubt to avoid uncomfortable comparisons,” the spokesperson said.

    Blocking Taiwan

    For its part, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “firmly rejects” countries’ proposal to invite Taiwan to attend the assembly, and has also blasted the call for an independent probe into the virus origin as “political maneuvering.”

    “Certain countries insisted on discussing proposals involving Taiwan to politicize a public health issue,” Zhao said Friday. “This consequence can only severely interfere with the progress of the conference and undermine international cooperation.”

    China is confident that the majority of countries won’t allow Taiwan to participate as an observer, and Beijing would “never” allow an independent investigative team inside its borders, said Shi Yinhong, an adviser to China’s cabinet and also a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

    “It’s becoming clear that China’s basic stance is to reject criticism, and focus on the efforts it has made in the global fight,” Shi said. “This is a position that China won’t change, hence posing a sharp opposition to the voices of accusing its cover-up and claiming accountability.”

    Legally there’s no provision in the WHO’s constitution, resolutions or rules of procedure that would prevent Tedros from inviting Taiwan to the assembly as an observer, said Julian G. Ku, a distinguished professor of constitutional law at Hofstra University, who studies China’s relationship with international law. Since nobody is asking the WHO to invite Taiwan as a member state or to recognize Taiwan as the representative of China, the body’s citation of a 1971 United Nations decision recognizing Beijing is “irrelevant,” he said.

    Still, a majority of assembly members are likely to block Taiwan’s participation, according to Kharis Templeman, an adviser to the Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

    “It’s just a fact of international politics now that most countries aren’t willing to risk their relationship with the PRC to take symbolic actions in support of Taiwan,” he said, referring to China’s formal name. “As long as Beijing makes countries choose between them, Taiwan is going to lose.”

    The U.S. can hardly complain about China’s influence in the WHO given that it encouraged Beijing to play a greater role in international organizations for years, said Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair in Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    “Now the U.S. is crying foul because it turns out Chinese interests don’t align with its own and China is pretty darn good at playing this game,” Kennedy said. “If the U.S. doesn’t want a Chinese-led international order, it needs to do a better job of fighting for its own vision within these organizations.”

  • BrwinwaBrwinwa PEx Rookie ⭐
    fake news, next one. hahaha...
  • Envy16Envy16 🐯 Tiger Squad🥈
    the first article seems legit tho.
  • Herr_StarrHerr_Starr PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    Nothing wrong with holding China accountable. They covered it up, they obfuscated and denied for far too long. 
  • hsusonhsuson PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    China needs to pay :(
  • TrollmasterTrollmaster PEx Rookie ⭐
    edited May 19
    hsuson said:
    China needs to pay :(

    Chinese Communist Partee should be destroyed!   :rofl:    
  • hellraiser2.hellraiser2. PEx Veteran ⭐⭐

    100+ Countries Now Support an Independent Coronavirus Inquiry. The Philippines is Not One of Them


    A draft resolution initiated by Australia and supported by 61 other countries proposed creating an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic and the World Health Organization’s response to it. The resolution calls for “an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate, to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19, including (i) the effectiveness of the mechanisms at WHO’s disposal.”

    On Monday (May 18), dozens of other countries have thrown its support behind the resolution, bringing the total number to 116.

    Noticeably absent in the list of co-sponsors are the United States, China, and the Philippines.

    The motion for the inquiry does not specifically mention China, or the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, and only calls for an evaluation to the WHO’s response to it. Still, China has vehemently opposed an international investigation into the origins of the disease, telling BBC that it was politically motivated and that such an inquiry would “divert China’s attention from fighting the pandemic.”

    A draft resolution initiated by Australia and supported by 61 other countries proposed creating an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic and the World Health Organization’s response to it. The resolution calls for “an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate, to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19, including (i) the effectiveness of the mechanisms at WHO’s disposal.”

    On Monday (May 18), dozens of other countries have thrown its support behind the resolution, bringing the total number to 116.

    Noticeably absent in the list of co-sponsors are the United States, China, and the Philippines.

    The motion for the inquiry does not specifically mention China, or the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, and only calls for an evaluation to the WHO’s response to it. Still, China has vehemently opposed an international investigation into the origins of the disease, telling BBC that it was politically motivated and that such an inquiry would “divert China’s attention from fighting the pandemic.”

    The resolution as it is now calls for global cooperation and collaboration to “contain, control and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” as well as ensuring that people are given “reliable and comprehensive information” about the coronavirus. 

    Australia initiated the inquiry, although the European Union has also called for a similar probe and its the latter's version that is the one drafted and put forth as a motion at the World Health Assembly, which is happening Monday and Tuesday. China, as expected, was not pleased, and has retaliated through trade restrictions on Canberra, blocking beef imports and threatening to put a large tariff on barley.

    China has since said that Australia’s initial motion for an inquiry is different from the one by the EU. Officials believe China may ultimately support the motion as it stands now. 

    The list of countries now supporting the resolution includes: Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, the African Group and its Member States, the European Union and its Member States, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Member-nations of the WHO are expected to vote on the resolution early on Tuesday morning (May 19).

    Ordinarily held in Geneva, Switzerland every year, the WHA, which is the main decision-making body of the WHO, is happening for the first time via teleconferencing this year and will tackle other issues, including one about a global vaccine action plan against the virus.

    There has been no word on whether the Philippines will eventually support the resolution. Health Secretary and the WHA’s 2018 Vice President for the Western Pacific Region Francisco Duque III said the Philippines intends to “raise issues with regard to COVID-19,” according to the Philippine Star.

    Duque said the country would try to find out if other countries “can facilitate the transfer of knowledge” to improve Philippine responses versus COVID-19. The country will also participate in a WHO-facilitated solidarity trial to test some candidate vaccines, including Remdesivir, Lopinavir, Ritonavir and Interferon beta-1a.


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