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Geopolitics driving West's renewed virus game

By Furkan Halit Yolcu | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-26 08:05

The city view of Taipei. [Photo/VCG]

Many meetings are being held and speeches delivered during the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21 to 30, focusing on the global health agenda.

However, one of the main developments preceding the 76th WHA was US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's call to include Taiwan in the annual meeting as an observer, which threatened to shift the focus from the main event.

Since Blinken knows full well that the island's authorities cannot attend the WHA even as observers because of the one-China principle, which the United Nations, the WHO and the United State acknowledge, his call was meant to intensify international political rivalry rather than taking forward the theme of this year's assembly — "WHO at 75: Saving Lives, Driving Health for All".

The world is still struggling to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of helping the global recovery, some countries are trying to renew the debate on the origin of the novel coronavirus. In particular, some people in the United States-led West has been hyping up the possibility of the virus leaking from a lab in China, ignoring the conclusion of the WHO-China investigation that nearly ruled out such a possibility.

As such, the renewed Western claim is the result of the geopolitical games the US has been indulging in, rather than being a genuine effort to find the truth and promote further research in order to better prepare the world to deal with pandemics in the future.

Those in the West making such wild claims seem to have a hidden agenda, as they conveniently ignore the opinions of countless scientists based on empirical evidence. Their haphazard reasoning undermines the credibility of the scientific process, fostering a toxic atmosphere rife with conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims.

Besides, those propagating the lab leak theory have never talked about scrutinizing the high-security labs like the one in the army base of Fort Detrick in Maryland. The Fort Detrick facility has been accused of a safety breach and potentially releasing dangerous pathogens into the atmosphere. But instead of seeking an investigation into these accusations, the proponents of the lab leak theory do exactly the opposite, ignoring the unexplained increase in lung diseases in the vicinity of Fort Detrick. If this is not double standard, what is?

In contrast to the US approach, China has exhibited transparency in its handling of the pandemic right from the early days.

China's cooperation with international organizations and other countries became clearer when it invited a team of international experts associated with the WHO to investigate the origin of the virus. That was a commendable attempt to find an answer through scientific means.

China has also shown solidarity with the international community in the face of the global devastation caused by the pandemic. It has donated millions of COVID-19 vaccines to a number of developing countries, and supported efforts to stem the spread of the virus in areas with limited access to the vaccines. Such humanitarian actions reflect China's commitment to help improve global health and recognize that fighting the pandemic requires collective action.

The West's renewed focus on the lab leak claim is nothing but a geopolitical maneuver. As the US perceives China to be a challenge to its global hegemony, it is coercing its allies to consolidate the US-led anti-China forces to check China's peaceful rise.

Since some Western powers, especially the US, feel threatened by China's growing global influence, they seek to smear China and damage its international image.

In short, the renewed allegations against China in relation to the virus need to be critically examined in the context of geopolitical dynamics and political motivations. Scientific consensus and comprehensive research by the WHO support the finding that COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease. So the Western countries must address their contradictions and allow transparent investigations into their military and lab facilities.

Global cooperation is essential to helping the international community to be well prepared to handle medical emergencies in the future, so the US-led bloc should not sacrifice the truth at the altar of geopolitical maneuvering.

The writer is a research assistant at the Sakarya University Middle East Institute, Turkiye.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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