Kim Jong-un title: What is Kim Jong-un’s official title?

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Kim Jong-un has been the subject of speculation surrounding his health, with rumours of his death circulating in recent weeks. However, on Sunday state media said the North Korean leader hosted a meeting to discuss the country’s nuclear capabilities.

This marked Kim’s first appearance in three weeks after a previous absence – which was what had sparked rumours of surgery, ill-health and death.

State media service KCNA said the meeting discussed measures to bolster armed forces and “reliably contain the persistent big or small military threats from the hostile forces.”

The report added: “Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation.”

Kim has made an unusually small number of outings in the past two months, with his absence from a key anniversary prompting speculation about his condition.

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This came as Pyongyang has stepped up measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Korea says it has no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but South Korea’s intelligence agency has said it cannot rule out the North has had an outbreak.

Ruling Workers’ Party officials wore face masks to greet Kim as he entered the meeting of the party’s powerful Central Military Commission, state television showed.

However, no one – including Kim – was seen wearing a mask during the meeting.

What is Kim Jong-un’s official title?

Kim Jong-un has served as leader of North Korea since 2011 and is known by several titles dependent on occasion, in media or by the North Korean people.

Kim has been the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army since December 24, 2011.

On March 27, 2012, Kim was elected to the Fourth Conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

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In July 2012, Kim Jong-un was promoted to wonsu (translated as marshal), the highest active rank in the military.

After his father’s – Kim Jong-il – death in 2011, Kim Jong-un was hailed as the “great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche”.

He has also been called “outstanding leader of the party, army and people”, and “respected comrade who is identical to Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il”.

The Korean Central News Agency described Kim Jong-un as “a great person born of heaven”, a propaganda term both his father and grandfather had enjoyed.

Of his appointment, the ruling Workers’ Party said: “We vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong-un our supreme commander, our leader.”

In November 2012, satellite photos showed a 1,600 ft propaganda message carved into a hillside in Ryanggang Province, reading, “Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!”

North Korean state media often refers to him as Marshal Kim Jong-un, “the Marshal” or “Dear Respected”.

One reported – and more bizarre – title of Kim’s is “Ender of the Human Race and Planet Earth”.

Kim also holds the titles of

  • Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (as First Secretary between 2012 and 2016),
  • ex officio Chairman of the Central Military Commission
  • Chairman of the State Affairs Commission

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South China Sea chaos: China sends warning to rivals by unveiling record-breaking ship

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The new ship dwarfs coastguard vessels from other nations based in the highly disputed waters where China’s military presence continues to increase. The ship will enter service with the Ministry of Transport’s South China Sea Rescue Bureau.

On Monday, a subsidiary of state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation announced they had completed work on the ship and had successfully installed stabilising components for the search and rescue (SAR) vessel.

According to a press release on the China Merchant Industrial Holdings’ website, a contract to construct the ship was signed between the South China Sea Rescue Bureau and a subsidiary of the China Merchants Group back in November.

The signing ceremony was reportedly overseen by the South China Sea Rescue Bureau’s Party Secretary, Zhuang Zeping.

Technical plans and designs for the ship are expected to be completed this month.

Known as the 14,000 Kilowatt Large Cruiser Rescue Ship, it is reportedly set to be roughly 450-feet-long, 88 feet wide and 36 feet deep, according to Radio Free Asia.

If these measurements are accurate, the ship would be the largest and most powerful operated by China’s search and rescue service.

It is also reported to be the most advanced SAR vessel in China’s fleet with the ability to haul shipwrecks out of the sea with a 133-ton crane.

The China Rescue Service (CRS) solely focuses on maritime rescue or salvaging after accidents at sea involving other ships and civilians.

The South China Sea Rescue Bureau has set up regional bases on disputed rocks and islands in the region, including Fiery Cross Reef.

According to state media, there have been four rescue missions since the establishment of the rescue base on Fiery Cross Reef.

Most recently, the CRS rescued a fishing boat that became ground in the Paracel Islands.

This rescue took place after Vietnam resisted China’s decision to kick its fisherman out of the sea earlier this month.

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China hit out at Vietnam’s fishing protest in the South China Sea days after Beijing issued a ban on trawlers in part of the disputed waters.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said its neighbour had no right to comment on the annual summer prohibition on fishing, insisting China had every right to issue such a ban.

The two countries have for years been embroiled in a bitter dispute over the stretch of water.

The area is known to the Vietnamese as the East Sea.

The stretch which is home to more than 200 specks of land is potentially rich in energy.

Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, said: “Vietnam demands that China not further complicate the situation in the South China Sea.”

The annual ban sees more than 50,000 fishing boats forced to suspend their operations.

The South China Sea region is a disputed territory where it faces rival ownership claims from China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Diplomatic relations between the nations, which have laid claim to the islands, are already extremely strained.

The recent construction of bunkers on some of the atolls points to China preparing to “protection against air or missile strikes”, raising the prospect of a potential conflict, sparking World War 3 fears.

The islands and surrounding reefs have been the subject of a bitter and long-running territorial dispute, with China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines all laying claim to parts of the archipelago.

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China warning: Beijing’s coded ‘we are ready for WAR’ message amid Taiwan row exposed

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In November 2019, China warned the US to stay out of the Hong Kong dispute with a coded message that signifies war in Beijing. The Chinese regime told Washington to “stop meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs” before saying “don’t say we didn’t warn you!” – which is a diplomatic term usually reserved by Beijing to signal the start of an armed conflict. It added that American politicians were “the enemy of all Chinese people”.

In Hong Kong, protestors pushing for democracy and the protection of the territory’s freedoms have been met with heavy-handed police responses and increased limitations imposed by China’s government.

Hong Kong was granted special freedoms in the handover agreement between the UK and China in 1997, but demonstrators have pushed back against gradual infringements of these conditions, such as interference into elections and the extradition of its citizens to stand trial on the mainland.

But this is not the only issue attracting tension between China and Western powers, as the US and other countries seek to protect Taiwan from similar aggression.

China sees the Island as a breakaway province, and has pushed for reunification.

However, in January, a separatist candidate convincingly won the Taiwanese election, as President Tsai Ing-wen was reelected with an anti-Beijing message.

She warned Xi Jinping’s regime that China needs to “face reality” and show the island “respect” amid an ongoing row over its independence.

This message has not reached Beijing however, as reports suggest they are sending ships to Taiwan in an uptick of aggression.

The two vessels are taking part in war games near the Pratas Islands, playing into fears that a Taiwan invasion could be around the corner.

The aircraft carriers Liaoning and Shandong are currently in Bohai Bay in the Yellow Sea on a combat readiness mission before the massive ships head into the war games.

The move comes after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed Beijing’s desire to “reunify” with self-ruled Taiwan, an apparent policy shift.

Also worrying for the Island is China’s removal of the word “peaceful” from its Taiwan document.

International Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Hartcher, warned this week that the coronavirus pandemic has enabled China to pursue its goals in various parts of Asia as opponents around the world still deal with the crisis.

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The journalist told Sky News Australia: “China has got on top of its COVID-19 problem – the rest of the world is still battling with it.

“This is China’s moment to drive its advantage home.

“You see it with its foreign policy, you see its reactive, diplomatic push against countries around the world.”

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Archaeologists unearth rare 1000 year old couple’s tomb joined by ‘fairy bridge’

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Archaeologists in China have unearthed a tomb believed to belong to a couple that was buried together over 1,000 years ago. The couple were buried side by side and connected through a small window, called a fairy bridge, to allow them to continue their marriage after death. The brick coffins and ceramic tile pillows inside the tomb are thought to date back to the Northern Song Dynasty, 960 to 1127 AD.

They are part of the Yangjiawan archaeological dig site in the village of Nanfentang in Ningxiang in Central China’s Hunan Province.

Earlier this month, for the first time since the 1,000 tomb cluster was discovered in 2007, the site was evacuated.

To many within China, Archaeology can be considered a taboo topic as some view it as desecration of the dead.

Researches at the Hunan Archaeology Institute have argued they were forced to move on the land before the area was to be razed for the construction of the Ningxiang-Shaoshan Expressway.

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Lead archaeologist Yang Ningbo explained only a few grave goods were found at the Northern Song site.

In comparison, 13 burial objects were found inside a nearby tomb from the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Mr Yang also explained it was uncommon for couples to be buried together during this time period.

He added the use of the tiny window was also rare and indicative of Northern Song burial customs.

The fairy bridge highlighted an ancient belief that the window would allow the couple to connect once more in the afterlife according to the institute.

Mr Yang admitted the identities of the decease would be nearly impossible to determine.

However, he said charcoal fragments found outside the tomb indicated that a traditional burial ceremony may have taken place.

Remnants of the ritual can be analysed using carbon dating techniques, and would allow researchers to roughly determine when the couple were laid to rest, he added.

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In the nearby Eastern Han tomb, an iron cauldron and stand were among the most significant finds.

Mr Yang noted the cooking tools were similar to the ones used today for the traditional Chinese meal known as hot pot.

It is expected the excavation work will conclude before the motorway, which is set to open to traffic in 2022 and passes through the village.

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Coronavirus RAT hell: Lockdown sparks frenzy as starving rodents ‘eat their own babies’

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The closure of restaurants, bars and fast-food outlets has sharply reduced the amount of food on the streets, leading to a surge in cannibal rats. Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC News: “They’re mammals, just like you and I. When you’re really, really hungry, you’re not going to act the same.

“When you are hungry you’re going to act very bad, usually.

“So these rats are fighting with one another.

“Now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups.”

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US has warned rats are growing increasingly aggressive amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The CDC said: “Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents.

“This is especially in dense commercial areas.

“Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food.

“Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior.”

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The rodents usually feed on rubbish in restaurant bins, but with many outlets closed or only offering takeout they are empty.

Videos have been posted on social media of famished rats swarming deserted streets in New Orleans and New York streets.

Pest control officials said some rats are resorting to infanticide in order to survive.

A resident of New Orleans told CBS News how he witnessed a swarm of 30 rats crowded around a rare food source in the street.

CDC has also advised American restaurant owners to ensure holes are blocked up to stop the rats getting into business premises.

The CDC added: “Preventive actions include sealing up access into homes and businesses.

“Also, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins, and removing pet and bird food from their yards is advised.”

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World War 3 fears: First of five Iran tankers cross into Venezuela zone – will Trump act?

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The first of five Iranian oil tankers heading to Venezuela to help ease fuel shortages in the economically stricken country has entered the country’s waters. Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s economy vice president and recently named oil minister tweeted: “The ships from the fraternal Islamic Republic of Iran are now in our exclusive economic zone.” As yet, they have encountered no US interference amid a diplomatic standoff.

Oil is scarce in Venezuela, which ironically has one of the largest natural hydrocarbon reserves in the world.

This is due to a near-complete breakdown of the OPEC nation’s 1.3 million barrel-per-day refining network due to US imposed sanctions.

Amid heightened tensions due to what Venezuelan authorities described as threats from the United States, the oil vessel Fortune officially entered Venezuela’s Exclusive Economic Zone on Saturday.

Shipping tracker TankerTracker, have said that the other four vessels are en route to Venezuelan waters.

Today Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted: “Iran and Venezuela have always supported each other in times of difficulty.

“Today, the first ship with gasoline arrives for our people.”

Another Iranian vessel, The Clavel, the last of the five ships, is estimated to be four days away from a Venezuelan port.

The oil tankers are carrying enough oil to supply the country for two to three weeks.

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As the Iranian shipments of fuel and other chemicals sanctioned by the US, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Washington not to interfere.

He said that the United States created “unacceptable conditions” for other nations.

He was quick to point out that Iran would “by no means” initiate conflict.

Mr Rouhani added: “If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face any problems caused by the Americans, they will face problems as well.

“We hope the Americans will not make a mistake.”

The US has employed naval units in the region, in what has been classified a drug interdiction mission.

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Boris Johnson told to act now as China enforces law to create ‘police state’ in Hong Kong

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Speaking about Beijing imposing the law that could see anyone who supports the pro-democracy movement incarcerated, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong Baroness Natalie Bennett said: “This is effectively rule by decree and far from the assurances of autonomy the people of Hong Kong were given by both China and the UK with the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. We must also consider the timing of these announcements. The Hong Kong Police Force has recently used existing powers on social distancing to break up protests and has arrested pro-democracy activists.

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“It appears that Beijing is awarding Hong Kong’s administration further powers to clampdown on future protests.”

There has been widespread frustration at the British government’s muted initial response to China’s plans to impose the new security laws in Hong Kong.

The Government has so far urged China to respect the ‘one-party two systems’ principle, to which Natalie Bennett, in a letter sent exclusively to Express.co.uk, said: “Words are no longer sufficient, action is needed.”

This disturbing move by Beijing is an explicit breach of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed by both the UK and China in order to protect Hong Kong’s independent legislature and keep its political system separate from that of the mainland after Britain’s departure on 1 July 1997.

A spokesperson from the grassroots campaign group “Stand with Hong Kong” commented: “Hong Kong is being frog-marched towards a police state.

“What is left of our legal and political system is being shredded up before our eyes.

“Any pretence at autonomy is being rapidly undermined and the British government must denounce these actions and hold China to account for this latest fundamental breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration before it is too late.”

According to pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, the new security law could see the mobilisation of “more than a million people” onto the streets of the city in protest at the flagrant disregard of Hong Kong’s autonomy by China.

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With the enforcement of the new security law via decree directly from Beijing, China has effectively ended its commitment to allow life in Hong Kong to remain unchanged for a period of 50 years until 2047.

President Xi Jinping’s stated goal is to bring Hong Kong and Taiwan under Chinese centralised control, and with his multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative projects worldwide, he has revealed his hand as an ambitious and expansionist dictator, with a feverish goal to spread CCP influence, ownership and values worldwide.

Speaking to Aljazeera Doctor Andreas Fulda of the University of Nottingham said: “The international community has to push back.

“Because it will not end in Hong Kong.

“If we don’t want to see a war in the Taiwan Strait it must be made very clear to the authorities in Beijing that this has to stop.”

But now the UK Foreign Office appears to be afraid that by declaring the Chinese Communist Party, CCP, is in breach of 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that they lose their ability to urge China to commit to the “one-party two systems” obligation.

But, Doctor Fulda said: “The problem is that the CCP has already decided to transition to ‘one party, one system’ and the UK Foreign Office is in denial of reality.”

About the disregard for the ‘one party, two systems’ principle, Baroness Bennett said: “The imposition of this law, which has large human rights implications on the people of Hong Kong without, scrutiny by Hongkongers is as large an affront to the supposed legal reality of ‘one country, two systems’ principle that we have yet seen.”

Mr Fulda recently tweeted: “China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office has recently used genocidal language such as referring to Hong Kong’s democracy movement as a ‘political virus’.

“And they have called for the elimination of so-called ‘poisonous and violent protesters’.”

Andreas Fulda states that the international community needs a countermeasure.

He tweeted: “We need Magnitsky-style sanctions against responsible individuals in China and in Hong Kong.”

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Coronavirus: ‘World beating’ track and trace system ready for schools to reopen, PM promises

A “world-beating” track and trace system to stop a second coronavirus peak and help ease lockdown has been promised by the end of May by Boris Johnson.

The prime minister said he had “great confidence” the system abandoned in March given the ballooning number of cases will be up and running in time for English schools to reopen on 1 June.

He was under pressure to make the announcement after the government’s deputy chief scientific adviser said on Tuesday a highly effective version of the programme needed to be off the ground for any changes to social distancing to be safe.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged him at Prime Minister’s Questions to commit to a date, as more than 35,000 people have now died in the UK.

Mr Johnson announced 24,000 workers have been recruited to staff the track and trace programme. They will be tasked with finding all those who have come into contact with people with COVID-19 symptoms and will tell them to self-isolate.

“We have growing confidence that we will have a test, track and test operation that will be world-beating and yes it will be
in place by June 1,” he said.

“There will be 25,000 trackers, they will be able to cope with 10,000 new cases a day.”

In a creeping return to the combative nature of PMQs, Sir Keir said the UK has been through a “critical period” of nearly 10 weeks with no “effective tracing” of people spreading the virus.

He said the government’s action had left “a huge hole in our defences”.

Mr Johnson did not hold back in his criticism of the Labour leader, accusing Sir Keir of being “in ignorance of the facts” on care homes and offering “feigned ignorance” on the lack of tracing since mid-March.

Tempers ran high elsewhere in parliament, as the health secretary was sternly reprimand for interrupting Sir Keir.

The House of Commons Speaker told him: “Do you want to leave the chamber? We’re on maximum numbers. If you want to give way to someone else I’m more than happy.”

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Archaeology breakthrough: ‘Pristine’ 400-year-old warship lifted from Baltic revealed

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Vasa was a prominent Swedish warship, built on the orders of King Gustavus Adolphus as part of the military expansion he initiated in a war with Poland-Lithuania to build his empire. The vessel was armed to the teeth and decorated flamboyantly as a show of the King’s ambitions for Europe, but the warship foundered after sailing just 1,300 metres on its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, due to its unstable hull. Though located just a mere 30 metres below the surface, the ship was forgotten about until the Fifties, when young oil engineer Anders Franzen set out on a mission to solve the mystery.

Speaking on the BBC’s ‘Witness History’ podcast last month, presenter Tim Mansel detailed how the story unravelled.

He said: “1961 in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, an enthusiastic crowd gathered at the water’s edge in the middle of the city.

“It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1628 when Vasa sank, Sweden was one of the great military powers of Europe.

“For 30 years, war was raging across the continent, Vasa was the most modern and powerful warships imaginable, armed with 64 cannons.

“It was also a work of art, a dazzling display of intricate carvings and brightly painted wooden figures.

“But she sank ignominiously on her first voyage, only a few hundred metres from where she had been moored, by the Fifties, she was all but forgotten.”

Mr Mansel explained why Mr Franzen was determined to solve the mystery.

He added: “One man, however, Anders Franzen, was determined to find her.

“Anders was an oil engineer, but he never lost his childhood fascination for old ships, but the one that interested him most was Vasa, because of the connection to Sweden’s greatest King and the brief moment as a great power.

“He realised that the water of the Baltic Sea had probably preserved the ship in perfect condition, by raising her, he hoped to find a pristine time capsule of the 17th century.

“He knew roughly where Vasa laid and he became a familiar site, motoring systematically back and forth in his small boat summer after summer.

“Mostly, he later wrote, he found mostly bicycles, Christmas trees and dead cats, but finally in the late fourth summer his persistence paid off.”

In a segment from 1992, Mr Franzen can be heard explaining the moment everything changed.

He said: “One day in 1956, I picked up a bit of black oak from a spot that matched the old documents pretty well.”

Mr Mansel detailed how divers were sent below the surface to probe the find.

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He added: “Black oak was what he had been looking for, this is what they built ships from in 17th century Sweden.

“Anders persuaded the Navy to send a diver down to see if he really had found Vasa, but for the diver, it was too dark.

“But he could feel he was next to a large ship, so he climbed up and came across a square hole.

“It was at this moment he realised he had found a ship with two covered gun decks.

“It was obvious that they had found Vasa and the divers blasted a series of tunnels through the clay under Vasa.

“They put steel cables through the tunnels and attached them to the surface on either side.”

Speaking again in 1992, listeners heard Mr Franzen relive the moment Vasa was resurfaced.

He said: “I remember that day in August 1959 when we lifted her for the first time, she had been laying at a depth of 32 metres and we lifted her up to 16 metres.”

Mr Mansel revealed how the warship was brought to the surface in an almost pristine condition.

He continued: “Over a period of two years they lifted Vasa stage-by-stage.

“Then came the day August 24, 1961, that they would finally bring her to the surface.”

Vasa was housed in a temporary museum called Wasavarvet until 1988 and then moved permanently to the Vasa Museum in the Royal National City Park in Stockholm.

The ship is one of Sweden’s most popular tourist attractions and has been seen by over 35 million visitors since 1961.

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China promises to take revenge on Australia as 62 countries join new coronavirus inquiry

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But, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has felt the wrath of Beijing, after China threatened to decimate his country’s economy unless the inquiry initiative is dropped. The need for an inquiry will be voted on by 194 nations at the World Health Assembly on Tuesday. China has increased its belligerent threats towards Australia with a suggestion they may place a crippling tariff on barley exports.

The wording of the inquiry so far fails to mention China, but the nuances all point to an effort to uncover attempts by Beijing to cover-up the outbreak at the early stages.

The pandemic has caused world economies to fall into recession, with many questioning why they should repay the sovereign debt they owe China after the disease spread from Wuhan because of Beijing’s lack of transparency.

At present global cases of infection have surged over 4.7 million, with 313,713 dead and million still sick with the disease.

Australia’s inquiry efforts are now backed by the entire 27-member European Union.

The need for an investigation is also supported by New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, the UK, India, Canada, Russia, Mexico and Brazil, and is to be put before the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday.

Opponents of Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggest that he is using the inquiry probe idea as a way to distract from his own failings during the early days of the virus’ outbreak in his own country.

Mr Morrison’s approval rating has increased since he announced the inquiry initiative.

Early on in the pandemic, many Australians accused him of failing to take swift action or give clarity and structure to show his government was up to the task of dealing with the imminent threat of the virus.

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The motion that Australia will put to the World Health Assembly requires the director-general of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to “initiate at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with the Member States, a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation”.

The details of the motion call for an investigation into all the “experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19”.

Australia’s inquiry also wants and evaluation of the “effectiveness of the mechanisms at WHO’s disposal and the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The US, however, has pushed for even tougher language calling for the motion to name Wuhan specifically and asks for an investigation of the epicentre of the disease.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged all nations to back Australia’s call for answers.

The motion comes in light of the fact that China’s President Xi Jinping knew about the coronavirus on January 7, yet China only shut down the epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province, on January 23, after five million people had left to travel through China and to the rest of the world.

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