China's Xi says supports WHO probe, pledges US$2 billion to deal with COVID-19

China's Xi says supports WHO probe, pledges US$2 billion to deal with COVID-19

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a speech via video link on May 18, 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a speech via video link at the opening of the World Health Assembly virtual meeting from the WHO headquarters in Geneva, on May 18, 2020. (Photo: AFP/​​​​​​​WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION)

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 (May 18).

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.

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China had previously opposed calls for such investigations from Washington and Canberra, but Xi signalled 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."

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Xi reiterated Beijing's defence 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 US$2 billion in financial support over the next two years to help deal with COVID-19, especially to help developing countries. 

CHINA VOWS TO MAKE VACCINE A "GLOBAL PUBLIC GOOD"

China would also make any coronavirus vaccine it developed a "global public good" once it was put into use, said Xi.

China has five potential vaccines in clinical trials as countries race to find a way to stop the pathogen that has killed over 315,000 people worldwide.

In his speech, Xi said: "After the research and development of China's coronavirus vaccine is completed and it is put into use, it will be made a global public good."

This move would be China's contribution to achieving accessibility and affordability of a vaccine in developing countries as well, Xi said.

More vaccine candidates are in the pipeline and awaiting approval for human trials, said Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, last week.

Experts say it will take at least 12 to 18 months to develop an effective vaccine, or an even longer period.

Beijing will also 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.

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Source: Agencies/ic

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