Parliament House Canberra
Parliament House, Canberra: credit: CSIRO

Amidst a wave of global pressure on Beijing surrounding its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has become the latest nation to add its voice to the verbal melee.

Speaking in the nation’s capital, Canberra, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said her concern over China’s handling and transparency in reporting on the virus that first originated in Wuhan was at “a very high point.”

Marise Payne added ““The issues around the coronavirus are issues for independent review, and I think that it is important that we do that,” in an  Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) TV interview.

“In fact, Australia will absolutely insist on that,” she went on to say.

Unlike Taiwan, a nation with a similar population, although with a much higher population density, Australia has struggled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, 71 people have died around Australia from COVID-19 related illnesses with over 6,500 confirmed infections; both figures more than 10 times higher than the same statistics released in Taiwan.

Australian relations with China, an influential trading partner for Canberra for many years, have been on edge for several years, in part on the back of ambitious Chinese territorial and extraterritorial ambitions south of the equator.

Of note to Taiwan in the ongoing spat between Canberra and Beijing will be recent Australian criticism of the World Health Organization (WHO), so long, and still, a champion of Chinese anti-virus measures despite increasingly vocal global concerns.

Minister of Health in Australia Greg Hunt has recently criticized the WHO by referring to his own nation’s decision to effectively ignore WHO advice as early as February 1st by banning arrivals from China, saying  “What we saw from some officials in Geneva, we think was a response which didn’t help the world. We have done well, because we made our own decisions as a country.”


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