Australia Gathers International Support for CCP Virus Inquiry

Australia Gathers International Support for CCP Virus Inquiry
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks to the media at Parliament House on April 11, 2019 in Canberra, Australia.(Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
Amid a week of Beijing’s “wolf warrior diplomacy,” Australia remains firm on pursuing an independent international inquiry into the origins and handling of the CCP virus outbreak in Wuhan.
Foreign affairs minister Marise Payne told ABC Radio AM on May 1 that Australia was in the process of speaking to other nations to mount a “transparent review.”

“We have been very gratified by the engagement we’ve had in recent days and in the last week with the prime minister’s calls and my own,” Payne said.

Following the government’s efforts, a resolution has been tabled by the European Union for the World Health Organisation on May 18 that discusses the need for an appropriate review.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Alan Jones on 2GB Radio on May 1: “What the world over needs to know—and there’s a lot of support for this—is how did it start and what are the lessons to be learned?”

“That needs to be done independently. And why do we want to know that? Because it could happen again,” he said.

Previously, on April 14, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres committed to a review of the CCP virus pandemic after the crisis has passed.
Australia’s former foreign minister Julie Bishop told ABC Radio on April 30 that she was surprised by China’s reaction China given they “did not want to carry out a credible investigation for the rest of the world themselves.”

“I think it would have been preferable, of course, had China led a credible investigation into the origins of coronavirus, and I am surprised China has not done that given the impact on the Chinese economy, its society and indeed its reputation,” Bishop said.

Bishop also called for rhetoric to “scale down” and for a “more calm and quiet diplomacy.”

Bishop said the investigation needs to happen to understand how the virus “got into human populations and whether decisions could have been taken that would have prevented its spread.”

Speaking to Seven’s Sunrise on April 29, Bishop said China had an obligation as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to support an independent inquiry.

Australia and China are currently experiencing a cooling of diplomatic relations.

Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye on April 26 threatened that the “Chinese public” may boycott Australian exports, tourism, and the university sector if the government continued with the inquiry.

Foreign Minister Payne also said on May 1 that Australia would reject “any suggestion that economic coercion would be an appropriate response to calls for an independent and transparent review.”

Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.