Science, Not Politics, Must Lead Covid Origin Tracing
Politik Publishes a Signed Article by Ambassador Wu Xi
9 August 2021
A Chinese proverb says ‘if you are standing upright, don’t worry if your shadow is crooked’. When it comes to tracing the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, China is committed to standing up for science and multilateralism and opposing political manipulation. It is widely recognised that viruses are a common enemy of mankind, and can only be defeated through solidarity and cooperation among the international community. Origin-tracing of SARS-CoV-2 is critical for the effective control and prevention of the pandemic, and should be conducted globally in an objective and scientific manner. Political manipulation will only lead to division and disunity among countries.
China has been working closely with the WHO to support SARS-CoV-2 origin tracing. WHO experts were invited to China on two occasions to conduct joint research for origin tracing, with access to all locations they wanted to visit and all people they wanted to meet in order to reach scientific conclusions. One of these conclusions was that “a laboratory leak is extremely unlikely”. Experts also recommended “searching for possible early cases on a global scale” and “studying the possibility of cold-chain transmission of the virus”. The international experts participating in the phase 1 study are all renowned top scientists recommended by the WHO and its member states. Their scientific, objective, impartial and balanced conclusions and recommendations are widely recognised and respected by the international and science communities.
China believes the second phase of the study should focus on searching for early cases, molecular epidemiology, and the introduction of animal (intermediate) hosts in multiple countries and regions, based on extensive consultation with member states. It should be evidence-based, science-driven and carried out on the solid basis of the phase 1 study. The phase 2 study should not be carried out in places that have already been inspected in phase 1, especially places where a clear conclusion has already been reached by experts. In order to maintain the continuity, impartiality and credibility of the study, experts in other fields should also be added appropriately on the basis of the original composition of experts of the phase 1 study.
Attempts at political manipulation will only divert global efforts to accurately trace the origin of the virus and dampen the prospects of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why the international community is united in its opposition to any politicisation of the process. More than 60 countries have now written to the WHO, endorsing the results of the first phase of the origin-tracing research and opposing attempts to politicise the study. This reflects the shared aspiration of the international community and demonstrates where justice lies.
The people of China and New Zealand both adhere to truth and believe in science. The Māori proverb Whaowhia te kete mātauranga tells us to ‘fill the basket of knowledge’, and reflects the words of Prime Minister Ardern that New Zealanders are interested in learning, rather than “blame or any kind of witch hunt.”
With the same approach, China is committed to jointly building a community of common health for mankind and works with the international community to enhance solidarity rather than stoking conflict. China is actively implementing follow-up and further research recommendations made in the phase 1 joint report. China will continue to support and participate in global origin-tracing cooperation in the spirit of openness, transparency, science and cooperation as stipulated in resolution WHA 73.1, and will continue to actively engage in international cooperation to counter the pandemic.
With a united effort led by science rather than politics, I firmly believe we will defeat the pandemic at an early date.