COVID-19: Five Eyes Probe Possible Wuhan Lab Leak While Australia Eases Off Trump’s Sinophobia

UPDATED: The Morrison government will fall reluctantly into line with Beijing, says Tony Kevin, because China is where Australia’s bread is buttered.

Chinatown in Sydney, 2015. (Lenny K Photography, Flickr)

By Tony Kevin
in Canberra, Australia
Special to Consortium News

“The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.” (Arabic proverb)

The Australian government on April 19 rashly embarked on an embarrassingly public no-win initiative as the first responder to U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for an “independent” international inquiry into the Chinese origins of Covid-19 and the questionable role of the World Health Organization. 

In the U.S., Trump’s salvo against China was promptly echoed by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and most of the U.S. mainstream media, happy to support a new Chinagate false narrative as the U.S. death toll mounts past 65,000. There is nothing like a foreign scapegoat to divert attention and blame.   

But here in Australia, the government is trying quietly to back away from the position in which it put itself with China, without sacrificing too much face.

Andrew Clark in the Australian Financial Review elegantly wrapped up the current swirling policy tensions in Australia in his opinion piece on Friday, which neatly set out the embarrassing predicament of the Australian political class:

“The issue is how to handle escalating tensions with a China threatening a consumer, student and tourist boycott following Australia’s strident calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the virus and beefed-up WHO inspection powers. As we all know, this threat comes from Australia’s most important trading partner. Complicating matters, it also happens to be the only real suspect as the original source for the contagion.”

Australia will fall reluctantly into line with China over coming weeks, without actually saying so, because China is where our bread is buttered, while at the same time the U.S. is recognized by realist Australian strategic thinkers as a declining superpower.

Economics will triumph over geopolitics, as it usually does. Of course, the Australian political elites and U.S.-compliant mainstream media will not yet say this openly. Some Australian diplomatic face must be saved, after all. 

The Morrison government and the U.S.-compliant Australian strategic community will huff and puff for a while, but China is winning this round. The dogs have barked, but the caravan moves on.

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There are two well-qualified starting points in reviewing what happened here:

The inglorious saga began on April 19, with Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne appearing to pick up Trump’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Wuhan virus and the role of WHO.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne (Wikimedia Commons)

Payne’s proposal was immediately backed by Labor opposition health and foreign affairs shadow ministers, and in ensuing days  by a roll call of government senior officials, including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Australian MSM journalists, led by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher, joined in to support Payne’s proposal, whose elements were:

  • Call for “independent global inquiry into origins of the coronavirus pandemic, including China’s handling of the initial outbreak in the city of Wuhan.”
  • The inquiry into the outbreak should be run “independently of the WHO, which has faced international criticism of its handling of the pandemic.”
  • “China should allow transparency in the probe, which would require international cooperation.”
  • There was no mention of any possible U.S. role in the transmission of the virus.

Payne said:  “It will need parties, countries to come to the table with a willingness to be transparent and to engage in that process and to ensure that we have a review mechanism in which the international community can have faith.”

Unviable from the Start 

For all the good reasons cited by McCarthy on April 22 and elaborated on with diplomatic finesse by Ambassador Cheng, the proposal was unviable from the start. To date it has attracted no international support: nor is it likely to, given China’s firm rebuttal.

Its proponents in Australia are increasingly exposed as agenda-driven, and in some cases, obviously Sinophobic, e.g. Michael Shoebridge, director of the Defence, Strategy and National Security program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a pro-U.S. think tank  headed by Peter Jennings, a former deputy secretary in the Department of Defence. 

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As Cheng says, China is firmly opposed to “this idea, this proposition from the Australian side, [because] it is politically motivated. It’s a kind of pandering to the assertions that were made by some forces in Washington over a certain period of time. Some guys are attempting to blame China for their own problems and deflect the attention. The proposition is obviously teaming up with those forces in Washington to launch a political campaign against China.”

Cheng said, secondly, that now is not the time to consider such an inquiry:

“It is our fear that this idea would disrupt international cooperation which is so urgently needed at the moment. We all know that this pandemic is still rampaging across some parts of the globe. So the most pressing task for the world is to put the life and safety of the people first. That means on the one hand it’s important for every country especially those affected to concentrate, to work and to speed up the efforts in their response. On the other hand, it’s important for countries to work together, to help each other and to support each other. Resorting to suspicion, recrimination or division at such a critical time could only undermine the global efforts to fight against this pandemic. We think it is irresponsible.”

While the Australian MSM busily tried to twist Cheng’s interview into some kind of Chinese threat to Australia (which it wasn’t), some Australian ministers began quietly to back-pedal. The ever-ambiguous Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted that such an inquiry might be useful now “or at some time in the future.” 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to U.S. sailors aboard the Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in 2019, during a joint military exercise. (U.S. Navy)

More significantly, Health Minister Greg Hunt took part in a media conference in Melbourne on April 27, to thank Australian iron ore exporting magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.  Forrest invited the Chinese consul-general to Victoria to attend, as a visible sign of his thanks to China in which Hunt grumpily concurred.

Forrest’s charitable Minderoo Foundation has organized in recent weeks a large shipment from China to Australia of 10 million Covid-19 testing kits and supporting personal protection equipment, which has made possible the assured Australian government approach to getting the virus under control. 

Morrison’s government owes a debt to Forrest and his Chinese government partners that there have not been many more Covid-19 deaths in Australia.  (Australia has 6,799 cases and 95 deaths).

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The contrast with the official posture was jarring, as AFR veteran columnist Jennifer Hewitt noted last Wednesday:

“The disconnect reflects the risks being willingly taken by Australia in an increasingly acrimonious confrontation with China. Although it’s impossible to argue with the need for an international independent investigation into what went so disastrously wrong, the timing, tone and obvious target in Australia’s call guaranteed an angry response from China.”

At the height of the uproar in Canberra on Wednesday, Forrest wisely commented:

“A Covid-19 inquiry worldwide is commonsense but it is not to be a Chinese inquiry. That would make it instantly political … I also don’t see what the rush is all about. Any such inquiry should be delayed until after the US Presidential election in November.”

Forrest noted that a “Chinese inquiry” would be instantly political in the U.S.

Andrew Clark, in his article on Friday, contrasts the Sinophobic views of Jennings of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute with the well-regarded maverick strategic thinker Hugh White, also a former deputy secretary in the Australian Department of Defence. Clark aptly notes:

 “The erudite White likens the Morrison Government’s approach to a global COVID-19 inquiry to Stephen Dedalus, the central character in James Joyce’s novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Dedalus observes how pissing in his bed may at first generate a warm feeling, but it soon turns cold.”

The interesting question remains: Would a truly independent and unbiased international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 make sense at any time in the future? What would be the conditions for such an inquiry to work?

This is a similar dilemma to that posed by the unexplained MH17 shoot down over Ukraine in 2014. The current Western so-called judicial investigation and process in The Hague could not be supported by Russia because it is so obviously biased and propaganda-driven against Russia.

Russia has pledged repeatedly to cooperate with a genuine international inquiry into MH17, but sees the process in The Hague as a propaganda game. Pretty much what Ambassador Cheng says about Payne’s ill-advised initiative.

A Useful International Inquiry 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres in empty building of UN headquarters after recording a video message on the Covid-19 pandemic, April 16, 2020. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

What might a truly useful international inquiry into the sources of the Covid-19 virus look like? It might look like this:

  • Commissioned and authorized by the UN Security Council, with all permanent members supporting or abstaining (i.e., without any permanent member veto).
  • With balanced international membership and terms of reference, agreed in the Council and with expert unbiased advice from UN Secretary-General Guterres and the WHO.
  • Explicitly tasked to examine possible involvement by any major country, without naming any one country.
  • Reporting back through Guterres to the Security Council.

The inquiry Australia is supporting is none of these things. It is outside UNSC auspices, it is explicitly aimed at China and WHO, it contains no reference to the U.S., and it has no balanced international composition, terms of reference, or provenance. 

It would be nothing more than a kangaroo court. It risks damage to Australian interests to go on advocating it. It has attracted no international support, but much justified anger from China. It is dead in the water.

It should be noted how foolish it is to claim, as some Australian mainstream media are still claiming, that any suggestion of U.S. government involvement in the history of the Covid-19 virus is nothing more than Chinese propaganda and should be ignored. Actually, there is now a long and reputable paper trail to the contrary.

Fauci at a recent White House briefing. (Flickr)

Most recently, an article last Tuesday in the mainstream U.S. journal Newsweek by Fred Guterl suggests disturbingly that, over several years since 2014, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), with the backing of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), paid $7.4 million over six years in successive contracts to the Chinese government Wuhan Bio-safety Level 4 lab in part to work on research into how to make natural coronaviruses in bats more easily transmissible to and between humans.

Many U.S. and international scientists protested that such dangerous “gain of function” research into artificial viruses should never be undertaken. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, did not respond to Newsweek, but the NIH defended it as necessary to create antidotes to any dangerous viruses that might thus be engineered by the Wuhan lab. It said scientists who had studied the coronavirus’ genome, made available by China, said it was not engineered in a lab:   

“Most emerging human viruses come from wildlife, and these represent a significant threat to public health and biosecurity in the US and globally, as demonstrated by the SARS epidemic of 2002-03, and the current COVID-19 pandemic…. scientific research indicates that there is no evidence that suggests the virus was created in a laboratory.”

But questions about the role of the lab persist about whether it played any role in the release of the virus. For instance The Daily Telegraph in Australia, quoting from a leaked dossier “prepared by concerned Western governments,” reported Saturday that: 

“It can also be revealed the Australian government trained and funded a team of Chinese scientists who belong to a laboratory which went on to genetically modify deadly coronaviruses that could be transmitted from bats to humans and had no cure, and is not the subject of a probe into the origins of COVID-19.

As intelligence agencies investigate whether the virus inadvertently leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, the team and its research led by scientist Shi Zhengli feature in the dossier prepared by Western governments that points to several studies they conducted as areas of concern.

At least one of the ­estimated 50 virus samples Dr Shi has in her laboratory is a 96 per cent genetic match to COVID-19. When Dr Shi heard the news about the outbreak of a new ­pneumonia-like virus, she spoke about the sleepless nights she suffered worrying whether it was her lab that was responsible for the outbreak.

As she told Scientific American magazine in an article published this week: “Could they have come from our lab?” Since her initial fears, Dr Shi has satisfied herself the genetic sequence of COVID-19 did not match any her lab was studying. … Her laboratory is now being closely looked at by international intelligence agencies. …

Politicians in the Morrison government are speaking out about the national security and biosecurity concerns of this relationship as the controversial research into bat-related viruses now comes into sharp focus amid the investigation by the Five Eyes intelligence agencies of the United States, Australia, NZ, Canada and the UK.”

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The Guardian on Tuesday tried to throw cold water on the Telegraph report.  But Trump administration intelligence agencies are indeed probing whether the coronavirus escaped from the Wuhan lab. The New York Times reported Thursday that the Trump administration is applying political pressure on the agencies to come to such a conclusion. Without providing proof, Pompeo said on Sunday: “I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

The Telegraph says U.S. intelligence leans toward a leak, while Australian agencies believe there’s only a five percent chance of that—again showing that Australia is backing off antagonizing Beijing. 

These should be questions for the future, if any real unbiased inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 should ever take place. Given renewed Cold War tensions between the U.S. and China, the chances for this are not good, at least until after the U.S elections. 

Meanwhile, the world must continue to try to work cooperatively, excluding no nation, to try to bring this virulent and dangerous virus, that has already killed 240,000 people worldwide, under control.  

Tony Kevin is a former Australian senior diplomat and the author of six published books on public policy and international relations.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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28 comments for “COVID-19: Five Eyes Probe Possible Wuhan Lab Leak While Australia Eases Off Trump’s Sinophobia

  1. May 6, 2020 at 07:32

    Australians are stupid. 75% want Anzus as it is. Their view of the world does not exist. Except sit-coms from the States, footy and suburbia. China is whatever the US says and even the ABC reflects this though nuanced but still. Indonesia is non aligned. Australians are weak. Talk big behind others skirts and whatever. They think when the US mentions ‘Orstralayaia’ en passant they go weak in the knees from joy. Even buying French subs that reach into the S China Sea for around up to $200 billion or so when they could have had a rare opportunity that the Japanese offered ! when suggesting during the tender stage of their cheaper, proven efficient subs when Abbott was in govt. But they did not reach that far! They were defensive – not offensive. Australia is as the Indonesians said: The American Deputy Sheriff in the region. Five Eyes are a failure by the way as well. Time to go non aligned I think.

  2. David F., N.A.
    May 5, 2020 at 23:54

    Mr. Kevin’s article definitely explains why Australia, the US, China and others would distract our attention from the Wuhan Lab. This interview by Jon Cohen of ScienceMag challenges the intel report. Here he asks George Gao, the director-general of the Chinese CDC, about the earliest infected people:

    Q: Wuhan health officials linked a large cluster of cases to the Huanan seafood market and closed it on 1 January. The assumption was that a virus had jumped to humans from an animal sold and possibly butchered at the market. But in NEJM, which included a retrospective look for cases, you reported that four of the five earliest infected people had no links to the seafood market. Do you think the seafood market was a likely place of origin, or is it a distraction—an amplifying factor but not the original source?

    A: That’s a very good question. You are working like a detective. From the very beginning, everybody thought the origin was the market. Now, I think the market could be the initial place, or it could be a place where the virus was amplified. So that’s a scientific question. There are two possibilities.

    If I’m reading it right, he should have said “five of the six earliest infected people had no links to the seafood market.”

    • David F., N.A.
      May 6, 2020 at 16:42

      Here’s the title of Cohen’s sciencemag interview:
      Not wearing masks to protect against coronavirus is a ‘big mistake,’ top Chinese scientist says

      Here’s the title of the China’s CDC’s nejm paper. The chart is Figure 1.
      Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia

  3. May 5, 2020 at 03:41

    America has hundreds of bioweapons labs in 25 countries, as well as in America itself. American has been researching chemical and biological warfare agents for 70 years. America refuses to comply with the Biological Weapons Convention. It has also used these weapons on its own people in experiments over the decades and on people in other countries. These dangerous military bioweapons laboratories have been doing highly dangerous research in countries on the borders of Russia, China, Iran and not far from Italy, as well as in Africa, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, etc. America does not allow investigations into these laboratories, even though people in the regions of these laboratories often die or suffer from strange illnesses. America’s hundreds of bioweapons labs threaten the whole world and should be shut down. Let’s have an enquiry into this! Iran, which has suffered much from the Covid outbreak, has called on Afghanistan and Iraq to get rid of the US biolabs in their countries. China has called for America to remove its biolabs on Russia’s borders.. They should all be closed down. There is much evidence showing that America is responsible for the Covid19 outbreak, starting with the shut down of Fort Detrick, a US biolab in America in July 2019.

    • Stan W
      May 5, 2020 at 11:23

      Rather remarkable that the author and some comments divert attention from China’s culpability. Yes China is a large trading partner. Yes the US has and does take positions and done things that are amoral. But how does does the size of a trade balance sheet or the fact the US was complicit say in the 1953 Iran coupe excuse away China’s potential culpability for covid-19. Such arguments are nothing more than false moral equivalencies, and economic might make right arguments, which distract away from the central question–was China itself culpable? Does economic might itself determine culpability? If so, would not the US, with an economy much larger than China, be free from moral culpability for anything it might do? The logic of the article’s thesis and some comments seem to collapse in upon themselves.

  4. KiwiAntz
    May 5, 2020 at 00:05

    Australia does enormous Trade with China & barely any with the USA. In fact, 80% of the Australian Economy is reliant on Trade with China. So WHY would you rubbish your major Trading partner?? Chinese Students, alone, contribute $10 billion to the Australian Economy & Iron ore & other mineral sales bring in Billions more of Export dollars! Why Australia & its Leaders feel the need to denigrate, criticise & parrot American interests towards China, like a faithful, vassal poodle, defies belief! Why bite the Chinese hand that feeds you! Australia needs to recognise that its future lies with Asia, not the waning, crumbling, disintegrating Empire called America that’s disappearing into a Coronavirus Hell & Blackhole of it’s own making, lashing out like a mad drunk & blaming others for it’s incompetence & lack of action in dealing with this Pandemic? China provided plenty of warning, but the US under the buffoonish Trump never took the warnings seriously? But as usual America looks backwards not forwards, looking for scape goats to denigrate, in a stupid blame game that is utterly pointless & doesn’t help out by one iota rather than dealing with the situation NOW & in the Future! Australia needs to wake up & smell the roses, its bread is buttered by China, not America!

  5. Mitch C
    May 4, 2020 at 18:23

    Author is very much pro-China, and has ever right to hold any opinion he chooses. It is an opinion piece. But the nature of some of the comments does make one wonder as to their origin. I see no white knight in the entire issue, but unless China’s line that the US military spread the virus in Wuhan is accepted, I for one do not share the author’s opinion China essentially bears no responsibility, or that the issue of responsibility is not relevant unless it is “useful” (to who?) . Nor do I share the view that any investigation of the outbreak would only be reasonable if it include all members of the UN Security Counsel. Would it not be a conflict of interest for China, which holds veto power on the Security Counsel, to investigate itself? Why also does the authorize assume the WHO to be free of potential bias in an investigation after the US has de-funded it’s contribution. The conditions for a “useful” investigation the author sets are impossible, inadvertently, or perhaps not. Why would China accept any adverse finding by the UN in such an investigation when it has refused to abide by the UN decision in South China Sea Arbitration? Was that decision not useful to the international community?

  6. May 4, 2020 at 11:42

    Authors comment.

    “Meanwhile, the world must continue to try to work cooperatively, excluding no nation, to try to bring this virulent and dangerous virus, that has already killed 240,000 people worldwide, under control.”

    That sums up the best solution in a nutshell.

    Whatever happened in the lab, it wasn’t deliberate and our Congress and the White House are playing yet another stupid, reckless and careless game.

    • Taylor R
      May 4, 2020 at 11:58

      Chernobyl wasn’t intentional, but was fatal to the CCCP. Why shouldn’t China be called to account if in fact there was an “accidental” release from a lab (unproven to date) which had far more immediate and wide spread effects on the world then Chernobyl? Would an “oops my bad,” let’s all just move along, nothing more to see here, really be the appropriate response if that is proven to be the case?

    • Sam F
      May 4, 2020 at 22:14

      Taylor, you may wish that China would have a “fatal to the CCCP” event but you have not offered a reason.
      There is no evidence whatsoever of an accidental release, and why would a “call to account” go beyond that?
      Shall the US account for Lyme disease from its bioweapons lab on Long Island researching such things?
      How about the alleged 1950s US dropping of disease vectors on China from its lab in Alaska?
      Why would anyone believe a US report after its faked-up reports of Iraq WMD and the MH17 shoot-down?
      Isn’t US aggression a more likely cause, given the US hostility to China and its history of bioweapons attacks and lies?
      Especially when the US was funding bioweapons research in Wuhan and had a large sports group there then.
      Why would the US fear a WHO or UN investigation that it cannot control?
      Clearly any US involvement would be no more than a gambit for more US propaganda.

    • Hubert W
      May 5, 2020 at 02:26

      @Taylor R

      Because the cost to the Soviet Union of surpressing Chernobyl was massive and underpinned.

      The Chinese on the other hand, had a demonstratably stronger system of supressing and exterminating COVID-19 within her borders and ultimately helping her bordering Asian countries to do the same, very few of these countries having more than 10000 cases. This in comparison to EU and America who’ve had rapidly climbing cases well beyond what happened in China. That and China is now supplying the West in terms of medical supplies and technical aid.

      If it was a Chernobyl moment that was judged by any numbers, it wouldn’t be Chinese, it would be more American. The full picture will come out in the economics over time anyway.

    • May 5, 2020 at 08:59

      Taylor, if it did escape from the laboratory, surely most would say it was not deliberate, it was an accident. If true, which is highly unlikely, then the author’s prescription makes sense. What we are hearing from the United States and its followers are two things, one China deliberately hid the discovery of the virus in Wuhan until it was too late, and two hinting that it came from the laboratory.

      The mischief behind the investigation is to create reasons to punish China and of course, to take any blame from the spread of the virus for the way we handled it.

      What could follow are steps to punish China and it should be easy to predict how China will react and the chain reaction that could occur. We are not dealing with Iraq, Syria or even Iran and that is why the approach suggested by the author is the best course of action. It could still be costly to China but it would be far better for all the world to pursue such a course. It might also find that our hands are not entirely clean regarding the laboratory.

  7. Bob R
    May 4, 2020 at 11:37

    Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-run Global Times : “After the epidemic, we need to have more risk awareness when doing business with Australia and also when we send our children to study there. Australia is always there, making trouble. It is a bit like chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes. Sometimes you have to find a stone to rub it off,”

    Trade minister, Simon Birmingham: “Australia is no more going to change our policy position on a major public health issue because of economic coercion or threats of coercion, than we would change our policy position in matters of national security.”

    Seems pretty clear that rather heavy handed threats of potential economic coercion by China have not, as of yet, worked.

  8. Mark D
    May 4, 2020 at 11:03

    All hail China because it is economically on the rise (despite it’s currently crashing growth rate) and morally superior ? US bad–China good…. Rather simplistic and unconvincing. Australia is a founding member of the western alliance. Odds are better that Kim Jung Um will sooner realign with Washington (slim) than Canberra ever will with Beijing (none).

  9. Vera Gottlieb
    May 4, 2020 at 09:47

    How utterly despicable this whole thing is. First we have never-ending Russophobia (to distract from American woes) and now Chinaphobia (to keep distracting from more American woes). The US…a nation that just doesn’t have what it takes to stand up and say “yes, we have problems we are not facing”, but rather blames others.

  10. Ashino
    May 4, 2020 at 07:22

    Proof that Covid-19 was NOT an accidental release from Wuhan lab appears in Scientific American
    By Jim White | Empty Wheel
    from Popular Resistance
    Thursday, Apr 30, 2020

    “On Saturday, I took a deep dive into the origin of SARS CoV-2, the virus that is the cause of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. That post was the result of several long days of deep reading and thinking. Somehow, I missed that Scientific American had put out an update on Friday of their profile of Dr. Shi Zhengli, the scientist responsible for much of what the world knows about bat coronaviruses, including isolating the bat coronavirus from Yunnan Province that is the closest relative to SARS CoV-2 that has been seen in a laboratory.”

  11. ???????
    May 4, 2020 at 02:27

    please differentiate Chinese ppl from the Chinese communism gvnt. We Chinese ppl are unfortunately forced to be ruled by such evil and illegal organization! CCP detroyed Chinese culture and enslaved the Chinese ppl for over 70 years!

  12. May 3, 2020 at 22:30

    I find the thesis difficult. Of course, if Oz was merely concerned to care for its people it would encourage trade but since John Howard’s government there has been twenty years of submission to Washington DC with an increasing US military presence in the country, both men and arms, warship visits and supervision of the shady biz at Alice Springs. Oz is in the same boat as South Korea and Thailand – it cannot escape, even if it wanted to. It would take a Duterte in Canberra to grasp the nettle – now how likely is that?

  13. Nathan Mulcahy
    May 3, 2020 at 21:45

    I’d actually like to have an independent, international investigation conducted on why the US government, and the entire system, have failed so miserably to handle this pandemic even though the appearance of such a pandemic has been predicted since several years already.

  14. Tom Kath
    May 3, 2020 at 21:37

    Highest regard and respect for Tony’s insight. – I feel we must accept that USA is already at war, with enemies and allies only partly aligned. The transition from propaganda(info) war, economic war, to physical bombing, seems only a matter of strategic convenience now. Australia certainly may lose, but the war cannot be won by Australia or IN Australia.
    I also feel we must rid ourselves of the idea that there are only TWO sides in this war. – A “Multi polar” world order is quite different from one dominant hegemon taking over from another.

  15. Sam F
    May 3, 2020 at 18:48

    It would be helpful to have Mr. Kevin’s views on why Australia is so afraid of China as to serve US provocateurs.

    1. Australia was empty but for non-Chinese and non-Indonesian tribes when Britain began sending prisoners there.
    2. Chinese explorers apparently either never visited Australia in all those millennia, or just went home afterward.
    3. Indonesia’s 300 million Muslims are in the path of invasion, and were apparently never conquered by China.
    4. Apparently the Indonesians weren’t interested either, despite being much closer.
    5. China never invaded Taiwan or Hong Kong, despite US sabre-rattling in the Korean & Vietnam Wars.
    6. Mao told Ho Chi Minh “I don’t have a broom long enough to reach Taiwan, [nor you] to reach Saigon.”
    7. China would not dare block shipping in the straits, has not tried, and would likely agree to their UN administration.
    8. If the straits were blocked by China, it would lose foreign trade, and most shipping could go the other way.

    So why not seek UN administration of the straits of Malacca, and agreements on the South China Sea and Taiwan?
    Does Australia fear that China would suddenly invade, or just want deterrence, or is that right wing fearmongering?

  16. Michael888
    May 3, 2020 at 18:22

    The US and its intelligence agencies have learned how much value there is in official conspiracy theories (their narratives read by their stenographers, the MSM. America wasted three years on fake Russiagate BS which vilified Russia and “explained” the disaster which was Hillary and her coronation crowd. Her 17 Intelligence agencies (actually probably just John Brennan, Eric Ciaramella and James Clapper and their henchmen) now are in agreement (with no real evidence) that covid-19 escaped from the Wuhan Virology lab (funded by Fauci’s NIAID for the last decade). It’s comical to watch the DNC climbing aboard the Hate China Bandwagon (check out Michael Bloomberg, Hunter Biden and Diane Feinstein carefully and their relationships with China). There has been a bipartisan effort to push American jobs, manufacturing, high end technology, and our supply chains to China under every President since Reagan; this was the inevitable product of global elite neoliberalism.
    If it turns out that the virus DID escape from the Wuhan virology labs, it was surely an accident. Although no more transparent than our government has become, China did well to stop it internally, and the WHO failed spectacularly in not conservatively calling for travel bans from infected countries from the start (as implemented immediately by all Asian countries).

  17. Moi
    May 3, 2020 at 16:19

    Quote from the editor of the Global Times about Australia: “chewing gum on the boot of China that needed to be scraped off on a rock.”

    Perhaps so given that on 27 December a new virus was first reported to Chinese authorities who then advised the WHO all of 4 days later on 31 December. The first indication that the virus was lethal came on 11 January and Wuhan was locked down 2 weeks later when the possible extent first became known.

    That timeline shows China to be at the forefront of responsible health management.

  18. May 3, 2020 at 14:54

    On the day the story first appeared I made a comment, in another publication, suggesting that China was under no obligation to trade or have any other transactions with any hostile country. So who would get hurt here’ The iron ore business in Australia would be dead on day one followed by foreign students financial support to Australian universities . ( What does Australia sell China that China can´t find in Russia and or Africa) And on and on. Would the US pick up the slack? First of all they would not ( American First and All of That) second they could not afford to even if they should want to. And even if they chose to helt it would be in the form of a couple of F35s, a war ship or two or a dozen tanks. Non of this would solve the problem of a devastated Australian economy. So Australia would enter into a self inflicted economic depression. But of course the Australian Government thought about all of that before starting this pissing contest with the Chinese Government. They didn´t? Wow, the white spremacists are going to get a new lesson in who the new master race is and it ain´t white.

    • John Danziger
      May 3, 2020 at 16:29

      At last a timely and apropos appraisal of the situation created by the Australian government. The quotation from James Joyce was well put and one could add to that another with a slightly different nuance viz. Pavlovs’ dogs. No need to explain who was ringing the bell.

  19. Francis Lee
    May 3, 2020 at 14:12

    A salient problem for the vassal states in Europe and Australasia, Japan and South Korea, is the split between the economic elites and the political and media elites. Of course it makes perfect sense for China to be Australia’s natural trading partner, but given Australia geopolitical servitude as part of the US empire in the 5-eyes configuration, it does not make any economic sense. The same is true of Germany which has significant investment in Russia and receives Russian investment in Germany, in terms of energy exports. German economic development is, however, being hampered by its membership of the EU/NATO anti-Russian bloc.

    How long this arrangement will continue is a moot point, but the rigid and obedience and adherence of the ‘west’ to the dictates of US geopolitical interests is – in real terms – costing its ‘allies’ potential growth opportunities, even to the point of sanctions. It is said that the US treats its ‘allies’ worse than its enemies, and there would appear to be more than a grain of truth in this. The logic and efficacy of these asymmetrical relationships which were formed in the post-war period is now clearly defunct. But redundant political paradigms can not notwithstanding their redundancies can continue to exist long past the sell-by date.

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      May 3, 2020 at 21:44

      I’d actually like to have an independent, international investigation conducted on why the US government, and the entire system, have failed so miserably to handle this pandemic even though the appearance of such a pandemic has been predicted since several years already.

    • Jeff Harrison
      May 4, 2020 at 11:38

      Sadly, the US (and it’s vassal states weather or not they realize it) is insisting on continuing the socialism/capitalism warfare of the 20th century. That is why they will fail.

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