China sees coronavirus ‘truth as problematic’, Global Security Forum told

By Tom Ravlic

October 15, 2021

UN agencies, including the WHO, play an important role but we often imbue them with responsibilities and authority that they don’t have.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, right, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger, left, and Permanent Secretary minister of Defense, Finland, Jukka Justin, center, during a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue global conference in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The failure of the Chinese government to fully cooperate in investigations on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic should be no surprise, because of its single-power monopoly that sees truth as problematic, a former Trump administration national security adviser told the Global Security Forum this week.

Former soldier and journalist Matthew Pottinger served as a deputy national security adviser in the White House during the Trump administration from September 2019 to the day after the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol in the United States.

He told the audience attending the Global Security Forum both in-person in Doha and via webcast online that states led by dictators or a single party have the pursuit of maintenance of authority and power as their key priority.

“It prioritises always the preservation of a dictator’s or party’s monopoly on power, and truth is often very dangerous stuff to a party’s monopoly on power,” Pottinger said.

“There is nothing in it for Beijing as a single-party dictatorship. There is nothing in it for them to get to the bottom of how this thing actually emerged even though the future of public health in their country and in ours and every country in between depends on discovering the origin of this thing.

“We are not that much closer because Beijing has withheld any cooperation or the sharing of any data.”

Pottinger said that there were only two possibilities to the origin of COVID-19 that were being discussed — a natural origin or an accidental leak from a laboratory — and that he believed either is possible.

“I’ve looked at the ledger of circumstantial evidence on both sides,” Pottinger said. “I would say that the list of evidence accumulating on the side that this was an accidental leak far outweighs the circumstantial evidence that this time it was another natural origin, but we don’t know for sure.”

Pottinger pointed to the fact that organisations such as the World Health Organisation are unable to enforce global guidelines unless sovereign jurisdictions band together and use some form of political or economic coercion to force a non-complying country to abide by international health regulations.

“One of the things we have to be honest with ourselves about is that global institutions, UN agencies — including the WHO — play an important role but we often imbue them with responsibilities and authority that they don’t have and never really can have because they are not sovereign governments,” Pottinger said.

“They are institutions that every country in the world – including China – have some stake in. Varying stakes. The United States is by far the largest contributor to the WHO. It’s all very well to have rules but the WHO is unlikely to be able to enforce those kinds of rules.”


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