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Australia calls for investigation into China’s coronavirus response

Published on 29/04/20 at 12:24pm
Photo by Phil Whitehouse

Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, has called for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus, as Australia becomes one of China’s most vocal critics of its response to the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Morrison said his government will “continue to pursue what is a very reasonable and sensible course of action.”

He added: “This is a virus that has taken more than 200,000 lives across the world. Now, it would seem entirely reasonable and sensible that the world would want to have an independent assessment of how this all occurred, so we can learn the lessons and prevent it from happening again.”

Australia’s stance has angered the Chinese who have constantly denied any wrongdoing in its response to the pandemic. It has responded to Australia’s recent comments by saying the country was “gum stuck to the bottom of China’s shoe.”

This follows a similar sentiment expressed by China’s ambassador to Australia, Jingye Cheng. He suggested to Australian media that the country’s actions could result in China boycotting their goods: “Maybe the ordinary people will say ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?’ ”

On Monday, China’s Foreign Secretary, Geng Shuang, addressed the growing questions around the origin of the virus and its handling of the pandemic. He told a press briefing that: “Some politicians are trying to make political manoeuvres over the origin to smear other countries, but their unpopular attempts will never succeed. The urgent task for all countries is focusing on international cooperation rather than pointing fingers, demanding accountability and other non-constructive approaches.”

The virus is thought to have emerged from a food and livestock market in Wuhan. The Trump administration claims it could have been leaked from a lab, which nearly half of Americans in a recent study consider a possibility. China itself has alleged that the virus may have come from the United States. This can be seen through the lens of a wider diplomatic war that has been waged between the two countries since Trump became President.

Conor Kavanagh

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