China caves to pressure from WHO, various countries to probe COVID-19 outbreak, nation's response
After weeks of back-and-forth between China and countries in the West, led by the United States about a proposal to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 epidemic, China's leader Xi Jinping caved to pressure from the World Health Organisation (WHO). He urged that the world rally behind the WHO and support developing nations in battling the pandemic, in a speech he gave at a virtual meeting of the World Health Authority (WHA) on 18 May, 2020.
WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation. They hold an annual meeting – held virtually over 18 – 19 May this week – attended by delegations from all the Member States of the WHO, with a specific focus on a health agenda prepared by the WHA's Executive Board.
In Xi's speech, which he delivered via video at the invitation of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, he expressed that China backs the EU's draft resolution for a probe into the source of the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic. Xi exuded a sense of growing confidence on China’s part to put a lid on the pandemic and welcomed an investigation into the Wuhan outbreak.
Xi pledged $2 billion in aid for countries fighting the pandemic and, in an unexpected turnaround, agreed to an independent evaluation of the coronavirus outbreak, as long as it was "objective and impartial" — and conducted after the pandemic was under control.
The review will also assess China's response to the pandemic, in an effort to improve response times for future public health emergencies.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian elaborated on the country's seeming change of heart about the EU probe.
"Recently, the EU submitted a draft resolution on COVID-19 response to the 73rd WHA. All parties have reached consensus on the text," Zhao told media at a briefing, according to the Economic Times.
"On the issue of the origin of the virus, all parties have agreed to International Health Regulation emergency committee suggested wording and ask the WHO chief to work in close collaboration with World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agricultural Organisation, and all countries to find out the animal source and the transmission routes of the virus through field investigations and find out the possible intermediary host," Zhao said.
"The purpose is to reduce the risk of similar incidents in the future," he added.
India is among the 120 nations backing the European Union's draft resolution. India is also expected to be elected Chair of the Executive Board of the WHA replacing Japan at the WHA taking place 18-19 May 2020, with the Executive Board meeting slated for 22 May.
The meeting is being held amid global anger and concern over Covid-19, which emerged in the densely-populated central Chinese city of Wuhan. The world is also critical over the role of the WHO and its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in the pandemic's handling.
Updated Date: May 19, 2020 13:09:14 IST
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