On August 13, Mr. Liu Xianfa, Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Macao Special Administrative Region published a signed article titled Uphold the Spirit of Science in Covid-19 Origin-tracing in local English and Portuguese media. The full text reads as follows:
As variants of COVID-19 are now triggering new waves of infections around the world, anyone who is not prejudiced will respect a basic fact, which is the international community needs to join hands to fight against the pandemic with science instead of political manipulation. Regrettably, a growing unhealthy trend of politicization of the origin-tracing of the coronavirus by certain countries has seriously undermined the global combat against the pandemic, instigating the WHO Secretariat to unilaterally put forward a second phase probe plan into the origins of coronavirus, without the consent of its member states. Many countries have raised concerns and objections to the move.
Political manipulation must be opposed in origin-tracing. We have seen that from openly calling the virus the "Wuhan virus" last year to withdrawing from the WHO and hyping up the so-called "lab-leak theory", the US has, from the very beginning, tried to politicize the pandemic, stigmatize the virus, and use origin-tracing as a tool to attack China. From suppressing scientists who are making objective and rational voices, to asking the US intelligence community to conclude the origin-tracing investigation in 90 days, and pressuring the WHO to initiate the unilateral Phase II origin study against the principle of science and cooperation, the purpose of the US is obvious to all: to shift responsibility for their botched pandemic response, and achieve the political purpose of discrediting and suppressing other countries.
The spirit of science must be upheld in origin-tracing. It is an arduous task for the international scientific community to explore the origin, transmission and evolution of COVID-19. Efforts need to be made in the search for early cases in many countries and regions under the guidance of science. For some time, more and more reports have pointed to separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world in the latter half of 2019, and at least five states in the US alone had earlier COVID-19 infections before the first officially reported confirmed case. A host of studies show that traces of the virus appeared in the US, Spain, France, Italy, Brazil and other countries earlier than the first case in Wuhan, proving that COVID-19 origin-tracing is a complex scientific issue and calls for a global collaboration of scientists with a global perspective.
Conclusions and recommendations of authoritative reports should be respected in origin-tracing. China has always participated in international cooperation in origin-tracing in an open manner. China has for two times invited WHO experts to China to conduct joint research on origin-tracing. The experts went wherever they wanted to go and met all the people they wanted to meet. After a 28-day field visit to China early this year, the WHO-China joint expert group composed of 34 experts from multiple countries issued a joint report this March, with the conclusion that "it is extremely unlikely that a laboratory leak caused the first COVID-19 cases". It also put forward important suggestions such as "searching for possible early cases worldwide" and "studying the possibility of cold chain transmission of the virus." The conclusion of the report is based on a wealth of serious and meticulous research by international experts. It has been recognized by the international scientific community and constitutes an important foundation for subsequent global origin-tracing efforts. The second phase study should not repeat what has already been conducted, especially where conclusive findings were already reached.
The voice of justice from the international community should be heard in origin-tracing. Attempts and acts to stigmatize other countries through origin-tracing will lead to nowhere but firm opposition by the international community. In a letter published in The Lancet journal on July 5, two dozen prominent international scientists repeated their view that the virus evolved in nature instead of a lab leak. Recently, nearly 70 countries including Russia, Portugal and Finland wrote to WHO to uphold the results of the first phase origin-tracing and oppose politicizing origin-tracing. British foreign affairs writer Tom Fowdy said in his article that "If the world wants a WHO that functions properly, America has to stop scapegoating it." And according to an online poll in six languages by CGTN Think Tank, 83.1% of the respondents supported an origin-tracing study be conducted in the US by WHO. An online petition calling for the WHO to investigate US' Fort Detrick lab has garnered over 25 million signatures. These calls for justice shall be heard and valued.
To date, the covid-19 pandemic is still raging worldwide with its variants posing threats to various places including Macau. China has provided fresh impetus to the global anti-pandemic cooperation by hosting the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation on 5 August 2021. I am convinced that through solidarity and mutual assistance, through science-based origin-tracing and international collaboration, we will prevail over this pandemic and embrace a brighter community of shared future for mankind.