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Australia defends call for an inquiry into COVID-19 origins

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:59s - Published
Australia defends call for an inquiry into COVID-19 origins

Australia defends call for an inquiry into COVID-19 origins

Australia's calls for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 is "reasonable" and not targeted at any specific country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.

Olivia Chan reports.

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A diplomatic dispute has intensified between China and Australia... It started with Canberra calling for an international independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 last week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated his plans on Wednesday (April 29).

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER, SCOTT MORRISON, SAYING: "Australia will continue to of course pursue what is a very reasonable and sensible course of action.

This is a virus that has taken more than two hundred thousand lives across the world.

It has shutdown the global economy.

The implications and impacts of this are extraordinary.

Now it would seem entirely reasonable and sensible that the world would want to have an independent assessment of how this all occurred, so we can learn the lessons and prevent it from happening again." China -- Australia's biggest trading partner -- feels slighted.

The Chinese embassy has accused Canberra of quote, "petty tricks".

Its ambassador, Cheng Jingye, said Chinese consumers could boycott Australian products and universities, while Chinese state media has also fiercely rounded on Morrison.

The editor-in-chief of one paper wrote online that Australia was quote, "a bit like chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes.

Sometimes you have to find a stone to rub it off.” Morrison insisted Wednesday that an independent inquiry was not targeted at any country.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER, SCOTT MORRISON, SAYING: "So what Australia is pursuing is not targeted.

It is said independently, it is said out of common sense and I think in Australian's national interest and the global interest.

So I find Australia's position to be not remarkable at all but one that is entirely responsible, and I'm sure is broadly seen in that light around the world." So far, Australia's call for an inquiry has only received lukewarm support internationally.

France and the United Kingdom have said it is not the right time to focus on an investigation.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said China could have stopped the new coronavirus before it swept the globe.

Only New Zealand has sided with its neighbor for an inquiry into the pandemic.




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