World

China backs evaluation of global Covid-19 response

President Xi Jinping says Beijing will support WHO-led review

BEIJING: China supports a comprehensive review of the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) after the virus is brought under control, Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday.

Mr 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 virus gathers international support.

The pandemic has killed more than 310,000 people globally.

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

Mr 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 (S$3.5 billion) in financial support over the next two years to help deal with Covid-19, especially to help developing countries.

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, Mr Xi said.

At the conference, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an independent evaluation of the global coronavirus response would be launched as soon as possible.

Dr Tedros, who has always promised a post-pandemic review, said it would come "at the earliest appropriate moment" and provide recommendations for future preparedness.

"We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic. Every country and every organisation must examine its response and learn from its experience.

"WHO is committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement," Dr Tedros said. The review must encompass responsibility of "all actors in good faith", he said.

A resolution drafted by the European Union called for an independent evaluation of the WHO's performance and appeared to have won consensus backing among the health body's 194 states. - REUTERS

WORLD