Even as the genomic evidence is mounting to point the needle of suspicion at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for laboratory leak of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the global community will be vary of nailing China for the pandemic fearing an economic retaliation from the Xi Jinping regime. To date, 173 million people have been afflicted with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and as many as 3.7 million succumbing to it, apart from trillions of dollars lost in economic opportunity.
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While a Wall Street Journal report quoted a May 2020 study by prestigious Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California which concluded that the hypothesis that virus was a lab leak from WIV was plausible, the global community fears that the Xi Jinping regime will follow the Australia example against any country that pins the pandemic blame on China. Hence, all eyes are now on US Intelligence report on the virus origins as tasked by US President Joe Biden in coming weeks.
On May 18, 2020, Australian health minister Greg Hunt in his speech at the World Health Assembly said, “We are pleased to have support for an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the global response to the pandemic. We need to learn the lessons from this pandemic and ensure we have the strongest possible health architecture, with an enhanced stability to prevent and respond to future outbreaks.” The Covid-19 resolution was co-sponsored by Australia and the European Union (EU).
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The Australian health minister also pointed fingers at the WHO in his speech. “This (impartial inquiry) could include an examination of whether the WHO mandate and powers, include around inspection, need to be strengthened to ensure WHO members have timely access to critical data. And we need to protect against the global health threat posed by wildlife wet markets,” he said. The wet market is reference to possible zoonotic spill-over of the virus from bats to humans.
The Australian demand for an impartial probe into the origins of the virus at the World Health Assembly (WHA) led to swift retaliation from the Xi Jinping regime with economic sanctions on Australian goods like wine and beef. While a Chinese department accused Australia of having a Cold War mindset, it later suspended the bilateral economic dialogue. Beijing also blames the Australian government for cancelling two deals that the state of Victoria had stuck with China as part of its ambitious belt and road initiative.
While President Xi Jinping has directed the Politburo to convey a positive and humble image of China, its wolf warrior diplomats have been issuing threats to even countries like Bangladesh on joining the Quad initiative. Fact is that given the level of investment and exposure by Japanese, American and EU companies in China, it will be very difficult for global powers to call a spade a spade and make Beijing answerable to the pandemic. The matters will be further compounded if the Chinese decide to bring out the American complicity in gain of function research at the Wuhan lab to counter the findings by the much awaited US intelligence report.