EU top diplomat wants independent probe into coronavirus origins

European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell (L) wearing a face mask attends a press conference after a video conference of the European foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, 22 April 2020. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

The European Union’s foreign policy chief called on China on Thursday (14 May) to contribute significantly to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and said there should be an independent scientific investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

In a guest column in Friday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Josep Borrell said China should act to help protect the world from future pandemics.

“An independent scientific investigation of the origin of this pandemic is also necessary,” he wrote.

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China, in December and some countries, including the United States and some European states have criticised its handling of the outbreak. China says it has been open and transparent in its approach.

Borrell also said China should take on its responsibilities “commensurate with its weight” in tackling the pandemic, vaccine research and boosting the global economy, including playing its part in a major debt relief effort for developing countries particularly hard hit.

US President Donald Trump warned China on 18 April that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump warns China could face consequences for virus outbreak

US President Donald Trump warned China on Saturday (18 April) that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak.

Asked on 30 April if he had seen anything giving him a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, Trump replied, “Yes, I have.”

Pressed by reporters at the White House for details on what made him so confident, Trump replied: “I cannot tell you that.”

Trump says evidence ties China lab to virus, threatens tariffs

US President Donald Trump on Thursday (30 April) threatened China with fresh tariffs as he stepped up his attacks on Beijing over the coronavirus crisis, saying he had seen evidence linking a Wuhan lab to the contagion.

The EU position so far has been that this is not the time to look for responsibility over the coronavirus outbreak, and that international efforts should be on fighting the pandemic.  Russian ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov recently told EURACTIV that his country is “pretty much on the same wavelength on this with the EU” on the issue.

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