China 'open' to Covid-19 investigation, but says it must be free of 'political interference'

China is also open to working with the international community to look into the origins of the virus. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - Those throwing mud at the World Health Organization (WHO) will only leave a stain on themselves, China's foreign minister said Sunday (May 24), adding that the country is open to an international investigation on the source of the coronavirus but in process "free of political interference".

Mr Wang Yi told a briefing: "In the current epidemic situation, any suppression or even blackmail against WHO lacks the minimum humanitarian spirit and will not be accepted by the international community.

"Those who fling mud at the WHO will only leave a stain on themselves."

Mr Wang said supporting the global health organisation is a choice that any country "with a conscience" would make, adding that WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has done a good job.

United States President Donald Trump threatened last week to pull funding from the WHO, calling it an organisation that only serves China, allegations Beijing has furiously refuted.

China is also open to working with the international community to look into the origins of the virus, said Mr Wang, who was speaking on the sidelines of China's annual parliament sessions.

"At the same time, we believe that this should be professional, fair and constructive. Fairness means the process be free of political interference, respect the sovereignty of all countries, and oppose any presumption of guilt."

Mr Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have accused China of a lack of transparency over the issue and repeatedly pushed the theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese maximum-security laboratory.

Most scientists believe the virus jumped from animals to humans, possibly from a market selling exotic animals for meat in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The coronavirus, which first surfaced in Wuhan late last year, has since become a global pandemic sickening over 5.1 million worldwide and killing some 342,000.

The WHO has also called on Beijing to invite them in to investigate the source, with China proposing that the "global response" to Covid-19 should only be assessed when the pandemic is over.

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