Biden, G7 Offer No Real Sanctions To Back Up COVID Investigation

(Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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President Joe Biden and his peers within the G7 made little effort to outline a strategy for holding China accountable during their recent summit in the UK.

China was a frequent topic of discussion at the G7 summit, but there was little in the form of specific and new information or priorities from the member leaders. Biden, along with the likes of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, continued to highlight objections to Beijing’s authoritarianism but did not expand in depth on how they would enforce their demands.

Coming out of the summit, the G7 members called for a Phase 2 investigation into the origins of COVID-19. They said the investigation should look into a possible origin from China, and that it should be led by the World Health Organization (WHO). (RELATED: China Accuses US Of ‘Sinister Intentions’ In Calling Out Its Human Rights Abuses)

Critics, ranging from experts to officials, argued that China has tried to use its influence at the WHO improperly. Under this view, they further say the WHO cannot be trusted to investigate the origins of COVID-19.

The WHO’s initial investigative report dismissed the possibility of a lab leak until Secretary General Tedros Ghebreyesus walked it back.

From the beginning of the pandemic, the WHO has been complicit in suppressing information for China, and the sole American member of the WHO’s investigative team has a blatant conflict of interest preventing him from remaining impartial on the question of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Biden administration initially mirrored this call for the WHO to re-investigate weeks ago, before pivoting when it became clear that an additional WHO investigation would prove fruitless.

Still, that was the extent of the G7’s demands. In its formal communique, the body did not fully condemn China for concealing early reporting about the virus outbreak, nor did it openly acknowledge that China was responsible for hampering the WHO’s first investigation. (RELATED: Biden Calls Pact To Defend Europe In NATO A ‘Sacred Obligation’)

Biden himself acknowledged during the summit that there is no transparency coming from Chinese labs, and that the international community needs to get to the bottom of whether or not the virus came from a Chinese lab. China has made clear it won’t cooperate though. Rather, Beijing is going on the offensive, passing new laws that attempt to diminish the impact of foreign sanctions on its economy.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Fox News Sunday that China must cooperate with the WHO’s Phase 2 study, despite saying that the WHO’s first study was “highly deficient.”

Perhaps most notable is that the G7 was willing to more forcefully condemn other global actors. While no explicit mention of imposing sanctions on China was made in the communique, the body did say it would impose sanctions on Belarus for its detainment of journalist Raman Protasevich.

It also condemned Russia by name for its “malign activities” and called for more sanctions on North Korea.

When it came to China, however, there was a noticeable lack of “bite” behind the “bark,” a Washington Post columnist, Josh Rogin, said. “The WHO has already shown its impotence. If Biden punts to the WHO, that would be negligence.”