China’s Xi says supports WHO probe when COVID-19 controlled

May 19, 2020 - 3:57 PM
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A man wearing a protective mask passes by a billboard depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Belgrade, Serbia, April 1, 2020. The text on the billboard reads "Thanks, brother Xi". Picture taken April 1, 2020. (Reuters/Djordje Kojadinovic/File Photo)

BEIJING — China supports a comprehensive review of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic led by the World Health Organization (WHO) after the virus that causes the disease is brought under control, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday.

Xi‘s comments, made during a video speech to the World Health Assembly, come as a resolution pushed by the European Union and Australia calling for a review of the origin and spread of the novel coronavirus gathers international support. The pandemic has killed more than 310,000 people globally.

China had previously opposed calls for such investigations from Washington and Canberra, but Xi signaled on Monday that Beijing would be amenable to an impartial review.

“China supports a comprehensive evaluation of the global response to the epidemic after the global epidemic is under control, to sum up experiences and remedy deficiencies,” Xi told the assembly. “This work needs a scientific and professional attitude, and needs to be led by the WHO; and the principles of objectivity and fairness need to be upheld.”

Xi reiterated Beijing’s defense of its actions when the COVID-19 outbreak emerged in the country and said China was open and transparent and had acted quickly to share information about the disease.

He also pledged $2 billion in financial support over the next two years to help deal with COVID-19, especially to help developing countries. China will also make self-developed COVID-19 vaccines a public good to help with the efforts to curb the pandemic, he said.

Beijing will work with the United Nations to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China and help establish so-called green corridors to move essential goods quickly throughout the world, Xi said. —Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Se Young Lee; Editing by Catherine Evans