China: WHO Secretariat has no right to decide next COVID origin study

Source:CGTN 30-07-21 09:09 Updated BJT
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China on Thursday said the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat unilaterally proposed a second-phase origins study of COVID-19 and its work plan is only for discussions among WHO member states and is subject to amendment.

"The responsibility of the Secretariat is to facilitate full consultation and agreement among member states, and it has no right to make decisions on its own," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a daily press briefing amid reports of China rejecting the WHO's next-phase work plan. 

Zhao reiterated the work plan is inconsistent with the requirements of the resolution of the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA), which stipulates that the next-phase work plan needs to be led by WHO member states.

Since the virus broke out, China has highly valued the origin-tracing work and actively and openly participated in global cooperation in origin study, said Zhao, adding that China has twice invited WHO experts to conduct joint research and authoritative conclusions have been reached. 

In a report released by the WHO in late March after a field study in China's Wuhan, it was concluded that a lab-leak explanation of the origin of the coronavirus was "extremely unlikely." 

Many countries including China have voiced concerns and objections to the second-phase origin study plan, Zhao added. 

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that as an independent and sovereign country, China will not and cannot accept any work plan that is not a real plan to find the virus, but a plan to discredit China. 

Zhao revealed that China had provided the WHO a work plan of further study on COVID-19 origins before the Secretariat's proposal, adding that the proposal is scientific, professional and practice-tested.

The second phase of origin study should be guided by the WHA's resolution, carried out with scientists as the main body and based on evidence, according to the proposal.

The Chinese side stressed solid conclusions from the first-phase study on the issue should be respected, according to Zhao.

"If a clear conclusion has been reached, there's no need to conduct a repeated study," Zhao said. "The China-WHO joint research report has made it clear that a virus leak from a laboratory is 'very unlikely.'"

The expert group should be formed on the basis of the experts in the first-phase work, Zhao noted. 

He stressed the need to respect the experts' professional level, international reputation and practical experience, and said if there is a real need to supplement experts in other fields, they can be added appropriately on the basis of the original composition of experts. 

The spokesperson also noted China strongly opposes politicization of COVID-19 origins tracing and will continue joining real scientific study on the issue.

Editor: zhangrui
30-07-21 09:09 BJT
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