News Coronavirus Alexander Downer calls on China to fess up about COVID-19’s origin

Alexander Downer calls on China to fess up about COVID-19’s origin

The coronavirus has plunged the world into chaos but what happened in Wuhan remains a mystery. Photo: Getty
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China must come clean on coronavirus or it will “arouse the wrath” of the world, former foreign minister Alexander Downer warns.

The broad scientific consensus holds that SARS-CoV-2, the virus’ official name, originated in bats.

But Mr Downer says there’s still speculation on whether it jumped to humans directly, in wet markets or escaped from scientific labs.

He’s told the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce that the world will demand answers from China after the pandemic.

“For China this is a slow burn. So far China sending masks and testing kits, some of which apparently don’t work to well, to other countries and saying, ‘Oh look we’re here to help you’,” Mr Downer told a webinar on Friday.

“Come on, guys! You started it in the first place, let’s find out how that happened and let’s do our best to make sure that can never happen again.

“If China resists that I think that they will arouse the wrath of the international community.”

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Alexander Downer told the webinair that Beijing will pay a steep price for keeping its secrets under wraps. Photo: AAP

Mr Downer says if China isn’t transparent, some countries will try to counter its global influence “which will be confrontational and prima facie not to be encouraged”.

He called for China and World Health Organization to lead a probe, but it must involve scientists from the international community, including the West.

“There has to be a proper investigation into how this happened, where it came from, and China will be, I think in time, be put under huge pressure to agree to that investigation,” he said.

Mr Downer also said Chinese exporters could suffer as countries reviewed their supply chains for raw materials and essential products.

The former foreign minister believes Australia and the UK in particular will mull their dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals and rare earth metals like lithium.

“There will be an examination of these things and a realisation that we’ve perhaps become too dependent on China and other parts of the world and we’re going to have to become a little bit more independent,” he said.