|Chinese FM Spokesperson:Work Plan on Second Phase Origins Study Proposed by WHO at Odds with Position of China and Many Other Countries|
At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on 19 July, spokesperson Zhao Lijian answered a question about a second phase study into the origin of the coronavirus proposed by the the World Health Organization.
Journalist: The World Health Organization on Friday proposed a second phase study into the origin of the coronavirus in China, including all the laboratories and markets in Wuhan. And they called for transparency from the Chinese authorities. Will China commit this second phase specifically? If so, does it have a timeline? Will it make an order on the laboratories as part of this second phase?
Zhao Lijian: The work plan on the second phase origins study proposed by the WHO Secretariat is at odds with the position of China and many other countries on the issue. At the briefing of WHO member states on July 16, China and many other countries have elaborated their views on this issue. Here, I would like to stress the following points:
First, a resolution of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly clearly requests the WHO Director-General to continue to work closely with countries to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population. The next phase of origins study should comply with this request and be led by member states. We hope that the WHO will have full communication and consultation with member states, listen to and take the advice of all parties, and ensure that the drafting process of the work plan is open and transparent.
Second, in January this year, international experts from the WHO and Chinese experts formed a joint team and conducted joint research for 28 days in China. On March 30, the WHO issued a joint report, which includes clear conclusions and science-based recommendations for the next phase global origins study. It concluded that lab leak is extremely unlikely, and recommended conducting further research around earlier cases globally and further understanding the role of cold chains and frozen foods in the transmission of the virus. The conclusions and recommendations of the report should be respected and upheld, and fully reflected in the work of the next phase origins study. The joint letter of 54 countries to the WHO Director-General the other day also stressed this point.
Last but not least, origins study is a serious scientific issue that requires cooperation of global scientists. We are concerned about certain countries’ politicization of the issue. We hope the WHO can adhere to the spirit of science, professionalism and objectivity and work with the international community to jointly uphold the seriousness and scientific nature of origins study, resist the backlash of politicization and safeguard the sound atmosphere of global anti-epidemic cooperation.