Following the USD 20 trillion lawsuits filed by the United States of America, the international pressure on China has continued to build as several countries are demanding not only the origin but are also holding the Chinese authorities accountable for the non-reporting of the actual number of cases.
“China denies allegations”
China was the epicentre of the pandemic as the first reported cases were in Wuhan. In response to the lawsuits filed against the Chinese authorities, the government officials have continuously demanded the other nations to stop politicizing the pandemic and raising fingers
on ‘presumption of guilt’. However, as the pandemic continues to worsen with fears of a second wave, the countries are beginning to demand answers.
“WHO inquiry resoltuion”
The World Health Organisation held a virtual meet with 62 countries, including India, to identify the ‘zoonotic source’ of the novel COVID-19 virus. The members of this virtual meet had asked for an “impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation” of the WHO’s response to the global pandemic. Being states of interest, neither the United States nor China is a party to this resolution.
This resolution was a seven-page draft proposed by 35 countries and the 27 member European Union. The proposal is to be presented in the General Assembly meet on Monday which shall move to make a decision on the matter.
This resolution is being supported by the three permanent members of the UN Security Council, United Kingdom, Russia, and France, with strong backing from Japan, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, and Turkey.
However, the countries Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Afghanistan have decided to not be signatories to this resolution. Only Bangladesh and Bhutan have signed the resolution from the SAARC.
“India takes a stand”
India has also signed the resolution demanding an inquiry into the functioning of WHO in terms of the pandemic. This is the first time India has taken a position in an international forum to demand the origin of the virus as well as an inquiry into the international body’s response.
Up until now, India had only given support to the international sphere to tackle the pandemic at a global level.
The draft resolution calls for the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to “initiate at the earliest appropriate moment…a stepwise process of impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response, and therefore the actions of the WHO and its “timeline” of the pandemic.
The proposal seels to ask the WHO Director-General to begin collaborating with the World Organisation for Animal Health to conduct “scientific and collaborative field missions” and “identify the zoonotic source of the virus and therefore the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts”.
India has been a part of several inter-governmental consultations with a number of the signatories of the resolution — Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has had multiple conversations with his counterparts from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. There have been at least 7-8 group-phone calls with these countries, alongside the US Deputy Secretary Stephen E Biegun.
“China denies allegations”
On Sunday, Chinese ambassador to India, Sun Weidong tweeted to ease tensions between the two countries, “As neighbours, friends & partners, China & India share equivalent feelings & face the common task at this difficult time. On the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, we must win this battle against COVID19 together & build a community with a shared future for mankind.”
China has since been continuing to shift the blame onto other countries including Italy and stating that the presumption of guilt does not translate into actual guilt without evidence.
Earlier, Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong had tweeted: “Wuhan city in #China first reported COVID19 cases, but that does not mean the virus originated in Wuhan. #WHO has specific rules on how to name the virus. It is irresponsible to attach the virus with Wuhan and
“Voting on the resolution”
The next virtual meet of the General Assembly will conduct the voting procedure to determine whether to grant the observer status to Taiwan in light of the draft resolution. While China stands in opposition to this motion, the US is leading the side in support of Taiwan.