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Statement from the Spokesperson of the Chinese Consulate General in Sydney

2020-04-15

On 14 April, the Chinese Consulate General in Sydney submitted an article to Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper for publication. The article expounded China's view on recent arguments by some in the Australian media that China was "responsible" for the COVID-19 outbreak and clearly pointed out that the so-called "China responsibility" does not hold water. However, we were shocked to see that on 15 April, the Daily Telegraph had maliciously deleted parts of the article and selectively published other sections, calling white black and confounding right with wrong, seriously distorting the basic facts and views of the Consulate General. We deplore this behaviour and have lodged stern representations with The Daily Telegraph.

To be qualified as a media organization, objectivity and accuracy should be the cornerstone and the bottom line. "Redacting" is not a tool to be used by The Daily Telegraph to maliciously tamper with an article from the Consulate General. Freedom of the press is not a "shield" for the deliberate dissemination of false information and irresponsible remarks, nor should there be double standards only publishing what favours one side or voice. The Daily Telegraph's approach will not negate China's active efforts to strengthen epidemic prevention and control and promote international health cooperation. The Daily Telegraph is only demonstrating the malicious intentions of certain people and further damaging the newspaper's reputation.

To set the record straight, the full text of the relevant article from the Consulate General follows:

The So-Called "China Responsibility " on Convid-19  Simply Does Not Hold Water

Recently, certain Australian media outlets have been pushing the argument that China should be held "responsible" for the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, even claiming to demand compensation from China. These claims lack scientific and factual evidence, are full of arrogance and prejudice, and are simply unconvincing.

Firstly, is China to blame for the "original sin" - the outbreak? The answer is No.

Where the virus originated is still unclear and the global "patient zero" remains unknown. Just because COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, does not mean that's where the virus originated. The Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States has acknowledged that some people actually died of COVID-19 during last year's flu outbreak in the U.S.. The origin of the virus is a scientific issue that should be left to scientists to answer through solid research.

We live in an era of globalization and regardless of where the virus first occurred it is the common enemy of mankind. The international community never names viruses using any country or place name in order to avoid stigmatization and discrimination against specific ethnic groups. The World Health Organization named the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, following this international standard. Otherwise, according to that logic, who would be responsible for H1N1?

Some are taking aim at China's seafood market in an attempt to make China take the blame. However, a recent article published in the world's leading medical journal, The Lancet, indicated that a study of the first 41 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 showed that the first Chinese patient, who started showing symptoms on 1 December, 2019, had no history of exposure to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. Absurdly, an article in The Daily Telegraph on 4 April labeled a screenshot of a wildlife market in south-east Asia as the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The "Langowan Market" in fact has nothing to do with Wuhan.

Secondly, is China responsible for a "cover-up" and "delaying" response to the outbreak? The answer is also No.

China recently published the timeline of its release of information on COVID-19 and advancing international cooperation to the epidemic response, clearly showing how China responded to the outbreak chronologically. At the end of December 2019, The Wuhan Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in central China's Hubei Province detected cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause. On 31 December, the expert team from the National Health Commission (NHC) arrived in Wuhan to conduct an on-site investigation. On 3 January, 2020, China officially began to regularly inform WHO and relevant countries in a timely manner. On 8 January, China initially identified a new coronavirus as the cause of the epidemic. On 11 January, the China CDC uploaded five novel coronavirus whole genome sequences to the website, sharing data with the world and WHO. On 23 January, China shut down Wuhan's outbound channels, a city that is home to 13 million people (more than half of Australia's population).

Due to the fact that China did not "cover-up or delay" , the CDC of the United States issued a warning about COVID-19 on 15 January and Australia closed its borders from 1 February to all foreigners who had visited China in the previous 14 days.

China was the first country to face the unknown virus attack. In a little over two months, remarkable progress has been made in the prevention and control of the epidemic. The City of Wuhan was "reopened" on 8 April. At the same time, Some countries are still experiencing a massive spread of COVID-19 despite full knowledge of the virus characteristics and repeated calls by the WHO to strengthen prevention. Something must have gone wrong, but China is not to blame. Speaking on the BBC, Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, made it clear that people knew it was coming in the last week of January because the message from China was very clear, and we wasted two months.

Thirdly, is China "shying away" from its international responsibilities? The answer is still No.

At the height of the epidemic in China, the international community provided us with valuable support. With the rapid development of the global pandemic, China is providing support and assistance to the international community within its capacity while continuing to carry out its own epidemic prevention and control work. So far, the Chinese government has provided or is providing supplies to 127 countries and four international organizations, including surgical masks, protective gear and testing reagents. China has donated $20 million dollars to WHO towards international cooperation in fighting the pandemic. Chinese companies have overcome difficulties to produce urgently needed medical supplies for the global fight. We shared China's diagnosis and treatment guidelines with other countries, held video conferences with health experts, and sent medical teams to many countries. Chinese local governments, enterprises and non-government organizations have donated medical supplies to more than 100 countries and regions as well as international organizations.

Some people say that China is doing this to divert attention from its "responsibilities" and to pursue geostrategic interests. This is simply "gauging the heart of a man of integrity with one's own mean measures." China's sole purpose is to save as many lives as possible. It is out of gratitude, but also because of its international responsibilities. China will not stand by while a friend is in trouble, nor will it attach any strings when extending a helping hand. We have never forced any country to buy masks from China, nor asked any country to copy our practices and experience. I want to ask those who accuse China of "mask diplomacy": do you expect China to stand by and do nothing in the face of the global pandemic?

Some people say that test reagents and masks exported from China are "below standard or defective". There is absolutely nothing to worry about. China has always attached great importance to the quality and safety of medical materials and exercised strict management over such products. Of course, quality standards for products in China and in other countries will be different, and there are differences in usage. Improper application by users will also cause some efficacy problems. The Daily Telegraph reported that there had been a "quality issue with Chinese reagents in Spain", but the fact is that the reagents were not supplied by the Chinese government, and the manufacturer clarified that it was not a quality issue but improper use of the reagents. A few days ago, a plane carrying nearly 90 tonnes of medical supplies from Wuhan arrived in Sydney. A spokesman for the Australian Department of Home Affairs made it clear that this was vital to ensure critical medical supplies were available in Australia.

Pandemics have no borders. China will continue to carry out international prevention cooperation in good faith and shoulder its responsibility for an early victory over the pandemic. I suggest that those who are drumming up various arguments about the so-called "China responsibility" ask themselves the following: what are you taking responsibility for and what are you doing in the fight against the virus?

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