Origin-tracing not tool for containing China

2021-08-12 China Daily Editor:Mo Hong'e

The United States' relentless push to make China the sole focus of COVID-19 international origin-tracing has become an integral part of Washington's evolving strategy to contain China's growth and influence, observers said. 

Fixating on China helps advance the US' ideology-based alignment with allies and could also reshape the political agenda, downplay its policy errors and win more domestic voters, officials and experts from around the world said.

Over the past few months, some Western countries, including the US, have been lobbying the World Health Organization to launch another COVID-19 probe in China despite Beijing's open welcoming of the completed WHO investigation.

In particular, Washington has publicly alleged that Beijing devoted "enormous resources to deceit and disinformation", and it vowed to continue to "demand transparency".

However, according to the report in late March on the completed WHO joint study, a lab leak was "extremely unlikely" to be the origin of the coronavirus.

Sending letters to the WHO director-general and issuing statements, around 70 countries have objected to the politicizing of COVID-19 origin-tracing and underscored their support for the WHO report on the virus, according to China's Foreign Ministry.

Kung Phoak, deputy secretary-general of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, said, "Much more politicized and stigmatized are the discourses on the origin of COVID-19, giving rise to hate crimes."

In a recently published opinion piece, the ASEAN official said "China has been cooperating with various countries and international organizations, such as the WHO, to address this pandemic", and he warned that "any politicization will undermine the whole purpose of saving all lives".

Ali El-Hefny, Egypt's former ambassador to China and former deputy foreign minister, said, "The WHO is under the pressure of the US and the West to conduct a second phase of tracing the origin of COVID-19 in China."

The push for a second probe targeting China "is aimed at what the US and the West were unable to do" in the first round of the WHO investigation, the veteran diplomat told Chinese media in an interview.

Cavince Adhere, a Kenyan international relations expert, said, "There appears to be a buildup of political acts by some countries that now threaten the gains made in both pandemic source tracing and response."

He told Xinhua News Agency that the politicizing of the probe by some Western powers will hamper global efforts to control the virus.

Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said there has been a bipartisan, common choice in the US to scapegoat China over the origin-tracing issue.

The poor US COVID-19 response may lead to further political setbacks for the US Democratic Party in the midterm election next year, and "the need for advancing a domestic political agenda" has prompted the administration of President Joe Biden to turn a cold shoulder to potential COVID-19 response collaboration with China proposed by Beijing and other countries, Su said.

"If it cooperates with China in the COVID-19 fight, it will be unlikely for (Democrats in) Washington to divert domestic pressure and (they) will face a series of attacks from Republicans," Su said.

Earlier this month, Michael McCaul, lead Republican of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a report claiming that the novel coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology sometime before September 2019.

In response, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said US congressmen have smeared and slandered China "in pursuit of political gains", and Beijing strongly condemns "such despicable acts, that have no moral bottom line".

The spokesperson advised US congressman McCaul to urge the US government to release the medical records of unexplained outbreaks of respiratory disease cases in the country in 2019 and urged Washington to stop "political manipulation under the pretext of the epidemic and shifting the blame to others".

Su, the CIIS scholar, said, "China and the US, both as major countries, should weather the storm and stay in the same boat together against the pandemic, but Washington has chosen an approach that better aligns with its own interests rather than those of the international community."

"This will serve as an insurmountable obstacle against China-US teamwork and global cooperation in the COVID-19 response," she said.

Buthaina Shabaan, Syria's presidential political adviser, said Washington is unable to mislead anyone with its COVID-19-related accusations because "the world knows what the origin of these accusations is".

It is not appropriate for the US to accuse China in this matter because China is the country that fought the pandemic with high efficiency and it's the country that offered help for many countries to fight the pandemic, she told Xinhua recently in Damascus.

Most popular in 24h