MORE than 110 countries have backed Australia’s push for an independent coronavirus inquiry that may put China in the eye of the storm.
The African Group’s 54 member states will co-sponsor the motion, joining 62 other countries including Russia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Britain and Canada.
The European Union’s 27 members are all on board, along with Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and New Zealand.
According to SBSnews the Foreign Minister of Australia, Marise Payne on Monday said it was encouraging to see so many countries backing the inquiry.
He was quoted to have said “I think what it illustrates is a broad view that given the experience of COVID-19 – over 300,000 deaths, millions of people around the world losing their jobs, the impact on economies from one corner of the globe to the other – that there is a strong view that it is appropriate to engage in a review of what has happened.
“I don’t want to preempt speculate about the outcome, those discussions will be underway later this evening. I think it’s a win for the international community.”
The draft resolution calls for impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic.
It doesn’t mention China, but Australia’s push for the inquiry has angered Beijing, which has threatened a huge tariff on barley and blocked some beef imports.
In relation to the motion pushing, federal Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Monday it was important to “get to the bottom” of what had happened.
“I think the most important thing, rather than apportioning blame to one particular country or another country, is that we get to the bottom of what’s happened. And part of that is about the origin, where this virus came from,” he told reporters.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the inquiry was about investigating what the world could learn from the devastating pandemic.
“That’s the responsible thing to do when 300,000 souls have lost their lives around the world,” he told the ABC on Monday.
Mr Littleproud said his Chinese counterpart had indicated he would not discuss trade issues in the near future.
Australia’s push for the inquiry into the origin of the virus sparked fury from Beijing with diplomatic ties between the two nations under intense pressure.
Meanwhile, China has lashed out at claims that Australia’s push for an international probe into the coronavirus has been vindicated, labelling it a “joke”.
After an early morning vote on Tuesday,China agreed to support an investigation after more than 110 countries co-sponsored a motion at the World Health Assembly on Monday night.
The World Health Organization has also agreed to an international probe into the coronavirus pandemic after an Australian-led push for an independent investigation.
Senior government figures claim the inquiry vindicates the government’s stance, prompting a scathing response from China’s embassy in Australia.
“The draft resolution on COVID-19 to be adopted by the World Health Assembly is totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review,” a spokesman told AAP on Tuesday.