It is hard to imagine China being more cooperative in 2023…but one can always hope.
Last week, my colleague Mary Chastain reported that a senior-level CIA whistleblower claimed the agency tried to bribe him and other analysts to bury findings about the COVID-causing SARS-Cov-2 virus spreading from a Wuhan lab leak.
It appears that the lab leak hypothesis is not the conspiracy theory “experts” asserted it was in 2020 and 2021. Now, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing China to offer more information on the origins of COVID-19 and is ready to send a second investigation team.
“We’re pressing China to give full access, and we are asking countries to raise it during their bilateral meetings — [to urge Beijing] to co-operate,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We have already asked in writing to give us information . . . and also [are] willing to send a team if they allow us to do so.”
…Tedros told the Financial Times that he travelled to Beijing in order to convince Chinese president Xi Jinping in January 2020 to allow the first Covid-19 mission of WHO experts, led by the health body’s Bruce Aylward, into the country.
The two most prominent theories envisage either a zoonotic jump from animals to humans via Wuhan’s wet food markets or contagion stemming from an accidental leak from the city’s virology laboratory. But no scientific consensus has emerged from the debate, and Tedros reiterated that all options remained “on the table”.
As a reminder, the 2021 investigation produced a laughable report that read like Chinese propaganda:
Wildlife farms in southeast Asia were likely the original source of the coronavirus pandemic, not a Wuhan, China, market as originally thought, according to a World Health Organization report Tuesday on the origins of COVID-19.
The report indicates that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was not the original source of the outbreak.
The WHO report also says that a leak from a Wuhan lab “was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway.” Theories on the coronavirus origins had cited a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a possibility.
I wish the group luck with its second investigation. It is hard to imagine China being more cooperative in 2023…but one can always hope.
“Unless we get evidence beyond reasonable doubt, we cannot just say this or that,” [Dr Tedros] said.
The original WHO mission was held in China in early 2021, but returned an inconclusive and highly criticised report, citing Beijing’s lack of cooperation as a factor.
“On the origin study, since they are not giving us full access, we started discussions in private and then when they refused to cooperate, we made it public,” Dr Tedros said. “If we know [the origin], then we can prevent the next one. So it’s science.”
One has to wonder, though, if the WHO’s move to pressure China is related to its president’s no-show status at the recent G20 summit.
…[V]iewed from the lens of China’s great power rivalry with the United States, analysts say Xi’s expected no-show at the G20 could also signal his disillusion with the existing global system of governance – and structures he sees as too dominated by American influence.
Instead, Xi may be prioritizing multilateral forums that fit into China’s own vision for how the world should be governed – such as the recently concluded BRICS summit and the upcoming Belt and Road Forum.
“There may be an element of a deliberate snub to India, but it could also be a statement that there are different governance structures Xi Jinping thinks are important – and the G20 may not be one of them,” said George Magnus, an economist and associate at the China Center at Oxford University.
I will look forward to assessing the next report, if there is one.DONATE
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