Dan O'Heirity

The “Independent Inquiry” Into Covid-19

Today’s news was, quite predictably, full of stories regarding the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution to move ahead with an “independent inquiry” into the CCP virus. I reported yesterday that far from being a victory for the countries calling for this resolution, the passing of the resolution was in fact a victory for China because China has managed to ensure that the three entities that will conduct the investigation – the World Organization for Animal Health which is led by a French scientist who has openly praised China, the World Health Organization that has been in the pocket of China since the virus began and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization headed up by China’s former Vice Minister of Agriculture QU Dongyu – will ultimately be sympathetic to China. You can verify these facts through reading item 9.6 in the agenda from the WHA meeting.

Furthermore, Australia backed down from demanding that the inquiry be conducted by an organization independent of the WHO. Australia also backed down from demanding that WHO officials have the same powers as weapons inspectors. And so to the stories that have followed the passing of the resolution. First, ABC News reports that Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said that, “The resolution commits to an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation into COVID-19, at the earliest appropriate moment, to review the lessons learned from the international health response coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO).” There is also a commitment to, “identify the source of the COVID-19 virus and how it was transmitted to humans“.

I reported yesterday that Beijing’s embassy in Canberra claimed that the inquiry being considered by the WHA is “totally different” from the one that was proposed by Australia. The embassy also said that Australia’s claim to “vindication” is a joke and that “Australia’s advocacy for the probe was improper“. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has also accused Australia of “political manoeuvring” on the epidemic, adding that, “this kind of action isn’t proper, won’t win people’s hearts and won’t succeed.” China, one of the most ruthless and manipulative dictatorships in the world is trying to take the moral high ground with respect to what is and is not proper. And as for winning the “hearts and minds of people”, China rules with an iron fist and keeps it citizens inline through instilling fear and dread in them.

The World News does not see matters as China sees them reporting that, “Australia’s successful pursuit for an inquiry is a victory for middle-power diplomacy in a time of growing tensions, defined by the actions superpowers. The inquiry is one of the first of many likely flash points that will play out on the world stage“. As much as I would like to agree with The World News, I find myself unable to do so for the reason stated in the first paragraph viz. the entities that will carry out this inquiry seem likely to be anything but independent and impartial. Rather, it looks like they will be pro-Beijing. The World News report makes no mention of this fact, preferring instead to state the Australian Prime Minister and the Australian Government are, “right to celebrate the global support of the motion as a win for the international community and Australia“.

China Coerces Countries in Any Way That It Can

I have reported in previous blog posts about how China coerces countries that are benefitting from their relationship with China tow the Beijing line at world organizations such as the United Nations General Assembly on sensitive issues such as the mass imprisonment of ethnic Uyghur and Turkic minorities in Xinjiang. The World News reports that Britain put forward a non-binding statement to the General Assembly critiquing China’s human rights record in light of growing evidence of the mass imprisonment of these minorities in Xinjiang. The British statement was supported by 23 countries. However, a Belarussian counter-statement praising China’s “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights” was backed by 54 nations who benefit from “carefully managing” their relations with China. Such is, or at least was, China’s soft power influence before their gross mismanagement of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.

It is in this context that we should understand Xi Jinping’s offer of US$2 billion dollars of assistance to be directed towards developing countries. This is an attempt to get these countries back on side through the promise cash. On that note, really US$2 billion dollars of aid. This sum is laughable and if you really want to understand this fact you can take a look at what 49 countries are spending on the CCP virus. The figures are expressed as a dollar amount as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. There are single countries who have spent well over double the US$2 billion that China is making available which means that the Chinese offer does not even deserve to be called tokenism. Rather the offer evidences, once again, China’s arrogance and contempt for the rest of the world.

Beijing’s Arrogance is Nothing Short of Astonishing

There is another report that covers much of what I have presented so far. However, the report does provide a few quotations of interest. First, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China supports a “comprehensive and accurate” evaluation, which among other goals will lead to “discovering the animal sources of the virus.” This statement fascinates me. Rather than saying, “discovering the source of the virus” Lijian says, “the animal sources of the virus”. Why does he feel the need to say “animal”? One could conjecture that he is merely aligning with the purpose of the inquiry which is to seek to, for example, establish the source of the virus in the Wuhan market. One could equally conjecture that China has something to hide by stating at the outset that the virus had an animal source.

The other notable point in the report is that Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that, China was willing to welcome a shift in Australia’s course if it “completely gives up its political manoeuvre and returns to the broad consensus of the international community following the relevant WHA resolution.” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham countered that, “Australia is not going to engage in cheap politicking over an issue as important as COVID-19“. China’s arrogance and presumption on the world stage can only be considered as staggering. We are talking about a dictatorship that recklessly released a virus upon the world, a virus which will ultimately infect hundreds of millions of people and kill millions of people. And yet, rather than humility and cooperation, we see the presumption of superiority.

First Published May 20th, 2020

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