US has no authority to investigate China: experts

Global Times
Wang Xinjuan
2020-04-21 15:38:08
US President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday. Photo: AFP

By Chen Qingqing and Yang Sheng

In an apparent attempt, during the weekend, to escalate the war of words with the Chinese side, Washington hawks, including US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, continued to ignore the facts while confusing right from wrong, by launching a well-calculated campaign of holding China accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic, spreading conspiracies targeting the Wuhan virology lab by blaming the virus for being man-made.

Top Chinese medical experts, officials and geopolitical observers said such nasty moves won't help the Trump administration contain the virus from spreading and reduce losses, while making China pay for its losses is ridiculous and unrealistic.

Trump said at a Sunday briefing that the US government wants to send a team to China to investigate the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) outbreak, which has so far caused over 750,000 infections and more than 40,000 deaths in the US. The US president said he is not happy with China, where the COVID-19 emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province.

China, like many other countries and regions in the world, was attacked by the virus, and it is not an accomplice, Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a press briefing on Monday. Faced with a major public health crisis, the global community should unite and work with each other. "I don't even remember when there was such a thing about holding others accountable or seeking compensa-tion," he said.

"In 2009, the H1N1 started in the US and spread to 214 countries and regions, causing nearly 200,000 deaths. Who asked the US to pay for their losses?" Geng asked. "In the 1980s, AIDS was first discovered in the US and later spread to the world. Who held the US accountable? And did anyone ask the US to bear the consequences of the financial turmoil in the US in 2008 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which eventually turned into a global financial crisis?" Geng added.

Some US officials also confirmed that a full-scale investigation has been launched to see whether the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, Fox News reported, citing several unnamed sources.

Trump came up with the idea of sending investigators to China after warning the country on Saturday that Beijing should face consequences if it was "knowingly re-sponsible" for the coronavirus pandemic, an apparent sign that the war of words is escalating between the two largest countries in the world.

"This is part of the US tactic to shift the blame to China, as the situation worsens in the US due to the lack of preparedness and due to the failed strategies to contain the spread," Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times on Monday.

"From what he said, Trump is not an honest man, and he has no right to send an inves-tigation team to China," Zeng said, noting that the majority of coronavirus cases in the US have been imported from Europe, not China.

Chinese experts noted that the US has no authority to investigate China, as the US probably could never allow China or the WHO to investigate how many "flu patients" in the US got misdiagnosed and when they were killed by COVID-19, and people don't even think about investigating the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday that

"Even the US launches an investigation, its unilateral and self-centric stance, which politicizes the public health crisis, would make such a probe unfair and illegitimate," he said, noting that some of those officials are politically driven, who show no respect to science.

People jog at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the United States, on April 16, 2020. The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 650,000 by 4 p.m. local time on Thursday (2000 GMT), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. Photo: Xinhua

Restarting conspiracy theory

Some GOP lawmakers have been floating the conspiracy theory that the virus came from a biochemical lab, and have launched a well-calculated plan to make China pay for the losses caused by the outbreak and holding the country accountable.

Some Republican lawmakers have been saying that the virus had originated from a high-security biochemical lab in Wuhan, despite a denial from Yuan Zhiming, vice director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

China has said many times that the origin of the virus is a scientific question, which should be evaluated by scientists and medical experts, and should not be politicized, Geng said, noting that the US should respect scientific and international opinion, and some people should realize that their enemy is the virus, not China.

They should focus on fighting the epidemic in their home countries and enhancing international cooperation instead of attacking China and shifting the blame to China, the spokesperson said.

Yuan told Chinese state broadcaster CGTN that this was a "conspiracy theory" de-signed to "confuse" people, and he also denied the virus was man-made, according to a video uploaded on the CGTN website on Friday.

'A giant baby'

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, noted that although Trump has expressed some positive stances with Chi-nese President Xi Jinping in a phone call on March 27, it seems that he doesn't want to keep his words and he even restarted the tactic to stigmatize and smear China to save his administration from the increasing domestic criticism as the US is losing control of the outbreak.

The Xinhua News Agency reported that Trump said in the phone call with Xi that "he will make personal efforts to ensure that the United States and China can ward off distractions and concentrate on cooperation against COVID-19."

Diao Daming, a US studies expert at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said Trump's approval rating continues to drop due to the failed and unscientific counter-measures that he had made. So statements made by Trump and his officials show they didn't regard the pandemic as a threat to Americans, as their remarks and behavior have been driven by political motives.

Gallup said Trump's approval rating was 43 percent in April, down from 49 percent in March, and his disapproval rating has climbed to 54 percent from 45 percent in March. Observers noted that his failed policies on the pandemic and worsening economic and employment data caused his declining approval rating.

"Trump believes 'passing the buck' or blaming China could save him from the mess; but if he can't solve the problem, then blaming China would be useless. He is even inciting his supporters to oppose state governments controlled by Democrats, which is ridiculous," Lü said.

"China doesn't need to retaliate as his words and behavior are just like a giant baby," and humanitarian assistance and medical cooperation should be maintained, Lü noted.

"China should assist the hard-hit US states to avoid interference from the US federal government because the Trump administration could distribute the materials unfairly and make it more difficult for the Democrat-led states from getting supplies," Lü said.

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