Row over corona source: what lies behind it?

The US's accusation that China is lying about the origins of the coronavirus is growing ever louder: according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo evidence exists that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan. The World Health Organisation criticised Bejing for not letting a WHO mission into the country but has said it considers the accusations unfounded. Commentators cast a critical look at the US.

Open/close all quotes
Die Presse (AT) /

US hypocrisy

The US itself has participated in research on coronaviruses in China, sinologist Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik and physician Hans Peter Schwarz point out in the daily paper Die Presse:

“The institute in Wuhan is involved in international research and, according to the Washington Post, received regular visits from the US embassy. American research on coronaviruses was halted by a moratorium [imposed in 2014], but after that even more money was invested in China and even after it had been established that the safety of the research conducted in the Wuhan laboratory was not guaranteed. ... Apparently our way of life not only depends on sending our rubbish to China so it's cleaner here in our own countries. ... The US also prefers to outsource highly dangerous virus research to China rather than take risks at home.”

China Daily (CN) /

Liars are twisting reality

The English-language state newspaper China Daily is deeply critical of the US accusations:

“As the Covid-19 situation continues to worsen in the United States, their smearing campaign against China has become even more unscrupulous. Calling China 'the origin of the coronavirus' and blaming China for 'hiding information,' they are desperate to hold China accountable for the pandemic, and blackmail China to 'compensate' for the losses caused by Covid-19. ... During this year's pandemic, China's early warning is worth remembering, China's experience is worth learning from, China's sacrifice is worthy of respect, and China's contribution is commendable. Liars should never be allowed to reconstruct reality.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Cooperation instead of confrontation

The sabre-rattling between China and the US is hindering the global fight against the pandemic, complains The Irish Independent:

“The scapegoating of China may be a profitable domestic gambit, but it would be wiser to wait for the facts. The world's two greatest superpowers do not need to get involved in finger-pointing exercises when the planet needs to be united more than ever. Undermining whatever tender prospects there are for international solidarity, scuppering a chance of a common approach to managing the pandemic would be unforgivable. ... Covid-19 has already created a world of troubles. We do not need 'leaders' to stir up new ones.”

Il Manifesto (IT) /

The West co-financed China's virus experiments

Apparently there really is proof of a "virus connection" in Wuhan, Il Manifesto comments:

“It is proof of a collaboration between the United States, France and China - worth millions of dollars - in the maximum-security laboratories of Wuhan for research into animal viruses. Obama had imposed a four-year moratorium on some of this research, but this was resumed some time later with the unconditional support of Anthony Fauci, who has been the head of US epidemiology for 40 years. In other words, the Americans and French have been financing experiments with viruses for years in Wuhan, including ones that they probably could not have carried out at home. ... Thus China has become a superpower: with our complicity.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Good diversion tactics

The problem with all the finger pointing is that the government in Washington cannot be trusted, writes the daily Die Welt:

“Donald Trump has been lying through his teeth since the day he took office, and his statements at his daily coronavirus press conference range from fanciful to bizarre. Furthermore, the politicisation of the US intelligence services is advancing. ... In recent weeks the US media have reported that the intelligence services are under increasing pressure from the White House to corroborate Trump's theories about the pandemic being the fault of the Chinese. Because Trump can use the corona crisis to divert attention from his own failures if he sees to it that China is blamed for more than just the cover-ups and dilly-dallying that we know about already.”

Izvestia (RU) /

Cold War cliches

Izvestia sees a return to the era of anti-communist attitudes:

“The tempo of confrontational developments is increasing. It will be hard to slow down. The main thing driving this is the US election. ... The accusations levelled at China were ideologically tainted from the start. Almost all statements and documents stress that China is a communist state. The conflict is immediately being raised to the level of identity: 'Us against Them'. We are the honest, democratic and open society which has fallen victim to the manipulation and deceit that is typical of communists and authoritarian regimes. The Cold War cliche is easily reactivated. It's just that Russia has now been replaced with China.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Find out what really happened

It's in Bejing's own interests to let an international team of experts into China, the Financial Times advises:

“China also has legitimate reasons to doubt the good faith of Mr Trump, who has consistently dabbled in conspiracy theories and repeated 'fake news' while claiming to denounce it. ...However if China were to accept calls for an international inquiry, it would not be Mr Trump who drew up the terms of reference. Other parties, including the UN and the EU (whose commission president has also called for an inquiry) could help to ensure the objectivity of the process. But in the absence of an independent investigation, the blame game between the US and China is likely to escalate and become more dangerous.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Make Beijing play ball

It's time to increase the pressure on China to reveal the origins of the pandemic outbreak, Berlingske demands:

“Europe's message to China's President Xi Jinping must be crystal clear: You cannot enjoy all the benefits of integration into free world trade if you don't behave like a responsible member of the world community. The EU could send the following short message to China's leaders: Dear Xi Jinping, stop the propaganda and join an international coronavirus investigation.”