Politicizing origin tracing undermines global anti-virus efforts — Pakistani expert

Passengers with face masks are seen in a bus in New York City, the United States, Aug. 2, 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

by Raheela Nazir

The politicization of COVID-19 origin tracing and anti-China remarks would only undermine global efforts to defeat the deadly virus, a Pakistani expert has said.

“This is unfathomable as the still raging pandemic is a greater challenge to humanity at the moment and requires global efforts,” Muhammad Asif Noor, director of the Islamabad-based think tank Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

China, since the onset of COVID-19, has been cooperating with the international community and officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) to trace the virus origins in a professional, scientific, and unbiased manner with a view to tackling such unexpected pandemics in the future, Noor noted.

As the virus alarm was raised by authorities in Wuhan, central China at the end of 2019, the Chinese government and its people fought with bravery and strength to control the spread of the virus, he said.

China has also shared vaccines with more than 100 countries across the world, helping save lives and fight pandemics globally, he said, adding that Pakistan was among the first recipients.

A handover ceremony of a batch of China-donated COVID-19 vaccine is held at Noor Khan Air Base near Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 1, 2021. (Xinhua/Liu Tian)

Noor, however, noted that despite all the honest contributions, a bunch of Western countries, including the United States, are hell-bent on unwarranted politicization of virus origins and making controversial remarks.

“Politicizing and malicious campaigns” would hamper global anti-virus efforts, he said. “Not relying on the science-based and professional solution will be far more lethal and infectious than the virus itself.”

Talking about the recently proposed second phase of studies planned by the WHO into the virus origin, he said that the recent plan disregards science and common sense, bent on peddling the lab leakage theory which was jointly declared null and void in the first phase of the study.

There is a sense of urgency to work on already completed work in phase one, Noor said. Also, investigations should be conducted “not solely in China but also other countries including the U.S. if they are serious enough to find objective truth and reality to discover the origin.”

A health worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in a mobile COVID-19 vaccination vehicle near Xidan business area in downtown Beijing, capital of China, April 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has recently urged the United States to take steps to trace the COVID-19 origins if it wants to show transparency, including disclosing data on early cases, allowing a thorough international probe into the U.S. Fort Detrick lab and the 200-plus U.S. biological labs overseas, and publishing medical records on U.S. military personnel who fell ill during the Military World Games in Wuhan.

Commenting on the statement, Noor said that being a sovereign country, China has all the rights to demand such a probe.

“The U.S. should be answerable to all these questions and steps. This is about equality and objective truth. You need to follow that if you are honest enough,” Noor said.

“The world is watching and will remember who was busy conspiring and who was busy helping the world,” he added.

Source: Xinhua

Technologies push biodiversity protection

Photo taken on June 12, 2021, shows a cute giant panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu city, southwest China’s Sichuan province. (Photo by Gao Han/People’s Daily Online)

From DNA sequencing to biodiversity monitoring, and from artificial reproduction to species conservation, science and technology has contributed a major part to China’s biodiversity protection in recent years.

China is a country with some of the richest biological resources in the world. It is also one of the first countries that have approved the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Noting that China’s researchers have valuable experiences that the world needs to hear about, British scientific journal Nature pointed out that as China prepares to take on a crucial role in the governance of global biodiversity, its researchers must be at the table.

Photo taken on July 17, 2021, shows golden snub-nosed monkeys at Yuhe National Natural Reserve in Wudu district, Longnan city, northwest China’s Gansu province. (Photo by Huang Peijun/People’s Daily Online)

China has built in Kunming city, Yunnan province, the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, a comprehensive national database for the collection and preservation of wildlife germplasm resources.

As of the end of 2020, the germplasm bank had preserved 85,046 copies of 10,601 wild plant seeds. It is hailed as “Noah’s Ark” for protecting wildlife germplasm resources.

Preserving dried and frozen seeds, the germplasm bank provides technological support for the protection, research and appropriate utilization of China’s wildlife germplasm resources, and plays a major role in international biodiversity conservation.

The importance of science and technology for biodiversity conservation is increasingly obvious. When remote sensor monitoring was not available, agricultural technicians had no choice but to go for field studies, which could barely meet the need for large-scale, fast and nondestructive monitoring of crop conditions and timely prevention and control of diseases and pests.

A paradise flycatcher feeds its offspring in Guanfan village, Shangcheng county, Xinyang city, central China’s Henan province, July 13, 2021. Paradise flycatcher was included into the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species in 2012. (Photo by Shui Congze/People’s Daily Online)

Nowadays, remote sensor monitoring has been applied in agricultural production in China, allowing agricultural technicians to analyze the movements of insect pests and evaluate the severity of plant diseases and insect pests by monitoring remotely the vegetation growth, coverage, surface temperature, humidity and other indicators.

In the Internet era, information technology has made possible the processing of massive data, and created wider and more convenient platforms for biodiversity conservation in China, including Chinese Virtual Herbarium, the Plant Photo Bank of China, and the National Animal Collection Resource Center. The emergence of these databases and digital programs in recent years is driving China to turn around its seriously threatened biodiversity.

From the collection and storage of information to the management and analysis of resources, the constantly improving biodiversity information network has realized the exploration and utilization of massive biodiversity data, providing a solid underpinning for China’s biodiversity conservation and research.

The practice of biodiversity conservation is inseparable from the guarantee and assistance of science and technology. Only by making science and technology a strong support for biodiversity conservation can humankind guard the Earth and build a beautiful world of harmony among all beings on the planet.