- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2020

China on Wednesday accused Australia of “petty tricks” as Canberra pushes forward with calls for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison began rounding up support from the international community, including the U.S., Germany and France, for the investigation as well as a formal inquiry into the World Health Organization’s (WHO) response to the pandemic.

The prime minister’s efforts have drawn criticism from China, which alleged Australia is “taking instructions” from the U.S. after President Trump this month publicly announced his intention to freeze funding for the WHO.

Frustration has been mounting against the WHO’s response to the pandemic, with some nations claiming the United Nations-backed organization was too slow to respond.

Mr. Morrison defended his position Wednesday and told reporters in Australia that “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.”

He pointed to the increasing global death toll, which has reached 218,456 as of Wednesday, and the ongoing effect on the world economy.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy hit back at the prime minister’s comments and said “the Embassy of China doesn’t play petty tricks, this is not our tradition.”

“But if others do, we have to reciprocate,” the spokesperson said.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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