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China supports ‘inclusive review’ of coronavirus response while pointing finger at U.S.

The Chinese government would be open to some sort of review of the coronavirus pandemic, according to its ambassador to Canada.

But Cong Peiwu says that would need to be “inclusive” and be run by the World Health Organization, which has come under criticism during the crisis over concerns it is too deferential to Chinese influence.

READ MORE: Trudeau says world has questions ‘particularly’ for China on COVID-19 origin

“China, we also support a review committee to be established by WHO but that should be taking place in an open and transparent manner and in proper time,” said Cong Peiwu in an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

“We believe other countries should focus on the fight against COVID-19. However I think for these kinds of reviews, it should be inclusive in nature. It should address the global response to COVID-19 and for us, we have taken the most strict and comprehensive measures in the fight against the disease and we are making great progress on that.”

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READ MORE: China accuses Australia of ‘petty tricks’ over its calls for coronavirus inquiry

He then turned to attack the United States’ handling of the pandemic.

“But if you can see with the United States, it has lost the precious time they had got from China because we had issued [an] early warning to them from the very beginning,” he said.

“Starting from Jan. 3, we had been updating the United States and WHO and other countries in a regular way but after that, the United States issued a travel warning to Wuhan but after that, I don’t think it has done anything very effectively to control the virus.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump says he expects virus to ‘go away’ in April as ‘heat comes in’
Coronavirus outbreak: Trump says he expects virus to ‘go away’ in April as ‘heat comes in’

U.S. President Donald Trump has faced significant criticism for initially dismissing the threat of the virus and arguing against broad social shutdowns designed to limit the spread among citizens.

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He has also pinned blame for the pandemic squarely on China and threatened to end the U.S. relationship with them, while arguing that the virus might have come from a virology lab located in Wuhan, which was the epicentre of the virus spread in China.

READ MORE: Trump mulls ending ‘the whole relationship’ with China amid COVID-19 pandemic

Cong was asked where he believed the virus originated, including whether it could have leaked out of that lab.

“That is a very serious question for scientists to answer,” he said.

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“All the available evidence now suggests the virus itself is not man-made, it comes from nature. And for us, we believe we should let the scientists answer the question rather than to hear from some politicians.”

READ MORE: Here’s what we know about whether China misrepresented the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

However, China has also threatened retaliation against countries like Australia that have called for an inquiry into the origins of the pandemic.

Much of the criticism of the Chinese response has centred on evidence it muzzled scientists and doctors who tried to raise alarm bells about a new illness in the early days of the outbreak.

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American media have also reported on intelligence officials from that country saying they believe Chinese data provided to the World Health Organization was “intentionally incomplete” and that the outbreak actually began in the fall, months before China formally reported the illnesses on Dec. 31.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says world has questions ‘particularly’ for China on COVID-19 origin
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says world has questions ‘particularly’ for China on COVID-19 origin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier in the week that the world will have questions “particularly” for China about how the pandemic began and how the response unfolded.

But Canadian officials have stopped short of requesting an inquiry into whether China covered up early indications of the outbreak that critics say could have bought the world critical time.

When asked why the government has not called for a formal inquiry, Trudeau has repeatedly said he has a responsibility to protect Canadians and ensure they have the equipment needed to fight the virus.

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READ MORE: United Front groups in Canada helped Beijing stockpile coronavirus safety supplies

Much of Canada’s imports of personal protective equipment like face masks are currently coming from China, which a Global News investigation revealed had used the United Front group tied to the Chinese regime to corner the global market on the medical gear back in January.

That reporting has also found that United Front operatives have been harassing and intimidating Chinese-Canadians on Canadian soil for their criticisms of the regime.

READ MORE: Chinese-Canadians ‘suffering in silence’ as China’s United Front reaches into Canada

Cong denied any knowledge of such efforts or any ties at all between the operatives and the Chinese government.

“We have never engaged in anything like to interfere in other countries internal affairs. That’s not our tradition,” he said before pointing to a spike in cases of violence against Asian-Canadians.

“So, sir, then you deny that your government in any way has been involved in intimidating Canadian citizens of Chinese descent who are living here in Canada?” Stephenson pressed.

“I have said that clearly there’s nothing like that,” Cong said back.

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“We don’t interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, so there’s no such thing happening here in Canada.”

Trudeau questioned on reports of pressure from Chinese government on Chinese-Canadian citizens
Trudeau questioned on reports of pressure from Chinese government on Chinese-Canadian citizens