China must come clean on coronavirus, says former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

China must come clean on coronavirus, says former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.


China must come clean on coronavirus, or it's going to "arouse the wrath" of the world, warns former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

The broad scientific opinion holds that the official name of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, originated in bats.

Yet Mr Downer says there is still speculation as to whether it jumped directly to humans, into wet markets or escaped from scientific laboratories.

He's told the Chamber of Commerce Australia-UK that after the pandemic, the world will demand answers from China.

"For China this is a slow burn. So far China sending masks and testing kits, some of which apparently don't work too well, to other countries and saying, 'Oh look we're here to help you'," Mr Downer told a webinar on Friday.

"Come on guys, you started it in the first place, let's find out how that happened and let's do our best to make sure that can never happen again."

"If China resists that I think that they will arouse the wrath of the international community."

Mr Downer says if China isn't transparent, some countries will try to counter its global influence "which will be confrontational and prima facie not to be encouraged".

He called for a probe to be led by China and the World Health Organization but it must include international community scientists, including the West.

"There has to be a proper investigation into how this happened, where it came from, and China will be, I think in time, be put under huge pressure to agree to that investigation," he said.

Mr Downer also said that Chinese exporters could suffer as countries checked their raw materials supply chains and important products.

In particular, the former foreign minister believes Australia and the UK will decrease their dependence on Chinese pharmaceutical goods and rare earth metals such as lithium.

"There will be an examination of these things and a realisation that we've perhaps become too dependent on China and other parts of the world and we're going to have to become a little bit more independent," he said.

Image: Alexander Downer says the world will demand answers from China after the coronavirus pandemic.