Opinion

COVID-19 Origin-Tracing: Respect Science, Reject Politicisation

The following is an opinion article by Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo.
27 Aug 2021 16:15
COVID-19 Origin-Tracing: Respect Science, Reject Politicisation
The WHO-convened global study of origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part is authoritative and science-based and has been widely recognised and respected by the international community, laying a sound foundation for advancing global origin-tracing.

The Tokyo Olympic Games have just concluded.

For the first time, the Olympic motto adds “together” to “faster, higher and stronger”, which expresses the sincere aspiration of human society facing the threat of an epidemic—only unity can lead to victory.

Unfortunately, certain countries keep hyping up the issue of COVID-19 origin-tracing, and even task intelligence agencies to produce an investigation report in a fixed period of time.

Leaving a matter of science with intelligence agencies is anti-science in itself.

One can imagine what conclusions the so-called report will draw.

The purpose is obvious: to shirk responsibility and scapegoat others.

This manipulation is of no good to protect the lives and health of their own people; moreover, it seriously undermines the international co-operation to fight the pandemic and delays mankind’s final victory over the virus.

Respecting science

China’s position on COVID-19 origin-tracing is clear-cut: respect science and reject politicisation.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been taking a scientific, professional, serious and responsible attitude, working closely with the WHO.

Last year, we invited WHO experts to China twice to proceed origins study.

Earlier this year, authoritative international experts from 10 countries including the US, UK, Japan and Australia formed a joint expert group with their Chinese counterparts and conducted a 28-day joint study in China, during which they jointly analysed data, made field trips, paid visits and had exchange of views to keep building science-based consensus.

With concerted efforts, the joint study has delivered fruitful results and produced many important conclusions.

Outcome of research

On March 30 2021, the WHO-convened global study of origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part was officially released.

The formulation of this report follows WHO procedures and adopts a scientific approach.

It is authoritative and science-based and has been widely recognised and respected by the international community, laying a sound foundation for advancing global origin-tracing.

China’s open and transparent attitude has been fully appreciated by the international academics.

Conspiracy theories

However, for quite some time, certain countries have been stigmatising the epidemic, putting a geographical label on the virus and politicising the origins study.

They falsely accuse China of not being transparent and co-operative by all means regardless of the facts, and exert huge pressure on the WHO.

Last month, the WHO Secretariat all of sudden notified its member states without prior consultation about a work plan on a second-phase origins study, including the so-called “lab leak” theory as a research priority.

The plan is not only inconsistent with the 73rd World Health Assembly resolution, but also ignores the conclusions and recommendations of the first WHO-convened joint study report.

Matter of science

The virus does not respect borders. Nor is race or nationality relevant in the face of the disease. We all hope to find out the origin of the virus and cut off its transmission as early as possible.

But origin-tracing is a matter of science.

It should be and can only be left with scientists to identify, through scientific research, the virus’s zoonotic source and animal-human transmission routes.

No country has the right to put its own political interests above people’s lives, nor should a matter of science be politicised for the purpose of slandering and attacking other countries.

Growing evidence shows that the virus had already existed in many locations around the world before the outbreak in Wuhan, China in January 2020.

This is also why the first WHO-convened joint study report highlights the importance of carrying out the origin-tracing globally.

As the findings and recommendations of the WHO-convened joint study report are widely recognised by the international community and scientists, it must be respected and implemented by all parties, including the WHO.

The future work of global origin-tracing should and must proceed from that basis, instead of reinventing the wheel.

Recently, over 80 countries have sent letters and notes to the WHO or issued statements in support of the WHO-China joint report, opposing politicising origin-tracing, and more than 30 countries clearly expressed their opposition or reservation to WHO Secretariat’s work proposal for the next stage origin-tracing.

More than 300 political parties, social organisations and think tanks from over 100 countries and regions have submitted a joint statement to the WHO Secretariat, calling on the WHO to carry out the COVID-19 origin study in an objective and impartial manner and firmly opposing politicisation of the matter.

These voices for justice should be heard.

Mankind is a community

Mankind is a community with a shared future. Solidarity and co-operation is our most powerful weapon for defeating the virus.

As a comprehensive strategic partner, China fully understands the challenges facing Fiji and is ready to provide more support and assistance to help Fiji fight the pandemic.

As long as our two countries could stay united with the international community and firmly oppose any attempt to politicise the epidemic, we will ultimately defeat the virus, and our people are poised to embrace better days ahead.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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