Foreign Minister Marise Payne makes a mild announcement, but opposition parties criticize the “unacceptable” behavior and “paranoia” of China.
The Australian government has called on China to allow a visit by World Health Organization (WHO) experts investigating how the coronavirus pandemic started, insisting the country should issue them visas “without delay.”
Canberra expressed concern Wednesday over news that the entry of a WHO team investigating early cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan had been blocked by Chinese authorities.
With China reporting that the team’s visas had not yet been accepted, even though some group members were on their way to the country, Australian politicians have become more worried about whether the WHO mission would be able to find the answers needed to help prepare the planet for the next pandemic.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she hopes “the necessary approvals for the WHO team to travel to China can be granted without delay.”
Payne said that after months of strained relations between the two countries, caused in part by Australia’s calls for such an investigation, “consistently sought transparency on the origins of the coronavirus and the responses to it, as have other countries.”
“The scientific study convened by WHO is an important part of this work, and we look forward to the results of the international field mission to China,” she said.
“During this global pandemic that has affected all countries, international collaboration and partnerships will maximize our ability to respond and equip us for the next pandemic.”
Anthony Albanese, the opposition leader, was directly critical of China’s actions on Wednesday, saying that the country was wrong to block the entry of WHO investigators.
“Well, the fact is it’s unacceptable,”Well, the fact is that it’s unacceptable.
Not just Australia, but the entire world needs this inquiry to take place.
And this should occur freely and transparently.
And China should be sponsored by it.’
The independent senator for South Australia, Rex Patrick, said the obstruction of the WHO investigators represented the “paranoia about international control.” of the Chinese Communist Party.
“I am disappointed but not surprised that China is blocking access to WHO officials investigating the coronavirus. Openness and transparency are not in the CCP’s DNA,” Patrick said.
He said the WHO investigation, which is not about finger-pointing but about learning the lessons of a pandemic that has “massive global implications.” should help all good global citizens.
But the independent senator also targeted the Morrison government for “improperly shrouding our own Covid response in cabinet secrecy,” saying that it had damaged the ability of Australia to put pressure on China to demonstrate the requisite transparency.
There was a request for comment from the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.
The government attracted the wrath of China for its early public calls for a global coronavirus investigation. A number of trade measures against Australian exports were later taken by Beijing and calls for talks between ministers were refused.
Last week, Guardian Australia announced that Australia plans to use its final months on a high-level World Health Organization panel to press for the investigation to remain “robust, impartial and thorough.
But Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells of the NSW Alliance, a Chinese hawk who has long argued that the investigation was watered down, said “no amount of oversight” by Australia will rule out “this will end up as a Sir Humphrey exercise.”
“The latest move by the communist regime in China to block the WHO team is not surprising,” she said Wednesday.
If it had not been able to “manage” the mechanism and “control” the result, China would not have voted for the watered-down World Health Assembly motion.
It was never in a position to be ‘independent’ or ‘robust.’
China ultimately joined with most nations to support a motion drafted by the European Union and co-sponsored by Australia in May for a “independent evaluation”
The consensus motion called for the WHO Director-General to initiate an independent review based not on the source of the coronavirus, but on lessons learned from coping with the outbreaks.
Under the Ge ge, the independent assessment panel