05/05/2020, 16.15
UNITED NATIONS - CHINA – UNITED STATES
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WHO comes to China's rescue, says coronavirus not from a Wuhan lab

by Bernardo Cervellera

Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo recently spoke of “evidence" that the Wuhan lab was behind the virus but failed to provide any details. Australia, the European Union, Sweden and Germany are calling for an international investigation into the origin of the virus, but China has refused. For the Global Times, Mike Pompeo has betrayed Christianity by lying, thus breaking "the ninth commandment".

Rome (AsiaNews) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has once again come to China’s rescue, rejecting the notion that the novel coronavirus came from a Wuhan lab, as claimed by US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Yesterday, WHO's emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual briefing that “We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus;” hence, he urged the US government to make them “available” if they exist.

Trump recently said there was evidence that the coronavirus came from a Wuhan laboratory. Even his secretary of state cited "enormous evidence" about its origin, but added that he could not talk about it for now.

Mr Pompeo spoke after the CIA said that it would continue to examine whether the outbreak “began through contact with infected animals or [. . .] was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan”. The US spy agency seems however not to believe that the virus was created in a lab.

According to some observers, there is always a possibility that the virus "escaped" from a laboratory in an accident. But various scientists and publications reject the notion that the virus was created by humans.

The prevailing idea, which is also that of the Chinese government, is that the outbreak began in the Wuhan seafood market, where live animals are sold as food.

Some Chinese scientists are sceptical about this thesis and suggest that it was imported from the outside. According to a study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Chinese Institute for Brain Research, published on 21 February, the virus appeared in Wuhan in November 2019 and became established in the market in early December.

Although not with the same vehemence or threats as the US – Trump has threatened to impose new tariffs on Chinese products because of the origin of the virus – other countries are asking China to be more forthcoming, including France, Germany and Great Britain.

For French President Emmanuel Macron, things "happened [in Wuhan] that we don't know about". German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants Beijing to share more information about COVID-19.

The origin of the virus is one issue. Some sources told AsiaNews that China is not sharing all the information it has on the coronavirus genome, and is offering the world scientific community only a partial map in order to buy time to find an effective vaccine before other countries.

Hence, the origin of the virus is more of an economic issue than a scientific or humanitarian one. For this reason, it has become a political question as US and China accuse each other of trying to manipulate information.

The charges levelled by Trump and Pompeo are complemented by those made by China’s Foreign Ministry, which blames US soldiers for infecting Wuhan during the World Military Games in October 2019.

Beijing is also pushing the idea that Trump is trying to distract US public opinion to hide the clumsy way he and his administration tackled the pandemic. At present the United has the highest number of positive cases (1.180 million) and deaths (68,934).

Meanwhile, Australia, the European Union, Sweden and Germany are calling for an international investigation into the origin of the virus, a demand China has rejected.

WHO has offered to be part of a team of scientists to study the issue together with Chinese experts, but the UN health agency is believed by many to be unreliable after giving in to China many times during this crisis.

In a game with no holds barred, some aspects border the ridiculous. For example, an editorial in today's Global Times accuses Mike Pompeo of lying, thus of betraying his Christian beliefs.

The paper is linked to the People's Daily and is therefore seen as a virtual mouthpiece of the Communist Party.

The editorial claims that Pompeo’s statement on the "enormous evidence" about the Wuhan lab violates the ninth commandment, i.e. bearing false witness. In reality, the commandment that forbids false testimony is the eighth.

But this is not the biggest mistake in the article. The most critical point is when it defends China’s late warning of the epidemic because “it took time for medical experts in China to learn about the new virus.”

In reality, doctors had already understood in December that an epidemic was underway caused by a new virus that could be passed on through human-to-human transmission, but police silenced them, including Li Wenliang, the hero who shall not be forgotten.

China also silenced all those who criticise the government for its handling the pandemic. In short, many broke the biblical commandment, on all sides, thus letting the virus go on the loose around the world.

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