PM backs coronavirus probe ahead of summit

·3-min read

Scott Morrison says his strong support for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic has "nothing to do with politics".

The prime minister on Wednesday delivered a major foreign policy speech ahead of a trip to the United Kingdom, where he will be a guest at a meeting of world economic powers.

G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States are attending the global conference later in the week.

In a speech that alluded to the continued rise of China and its implications for the region, Mr Morrison backed US President Joe Biden's push to bolster and accelerate efforts to identify the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Morrison government's strong support for an inquiry into the disease has angered Beijing and further damaged strained relations between the countries.

"Having led calls for an independent inquiry, it remains Australia's firm view that understanding the cause of this pandemic has nothing to do with politics - it's essential for preventing the next one, for the benefit of all people," Mr Morrison told Perth's USAsia Centre.

The prime minister stressed the importance of helping nations in Australia's region build projects that do not create crippling debt burdens.

He believes G7 countries and Australia should help provide alternative sources of finance for poorer nations.

"Projects should be high quality, affordable and have no strings attached," he said.

"Absent this safety net and transparency, our neighbours face obstacles to open economic development and can become vulnerable to debt diplomacy."

China critics accuse the superpower of trapping developing nations in infrastructure project loans that tip the power balance against them.

The prime minister has also pledged support for fixing the World Trade Organisation's dispute process after Australia launched trade umpire action against China over barley tariffs.

"Where there are no consequences for coercive behaviour, there is little incentive for restraint," he said.

Mr Morrison warned the international rules-based order was under threat with the world in a similar state of flux as it was in the aftermath of World War II.

"The risks of miscalculation and conflict are present and growing," he said.

WA Premier Mark McGowan on Wednesday renewed calls for Mr Morrison and other political leaders to tone down their rhetoric in regards to China.

"I don't understand it, why he would be doing that," Mr McGowan told Perth radio 6PR.

"We have a massive trade surplus with China which basically generates hundreds of thousands of jobs for West Australians ... I just think our language should be very nuanced."

Mr Morrison will on Thursday travel to the G7 via Singapore where he is due to discuss military co-operation, regional security and coronavirus with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Both countries are keen on a regional travel bubble, but it is understood an announcement is still some way off.

At the G7, Mr Morrison is set to hold meetings with Mr Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

He is also expected to hold talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with free trade negotiations in focus.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting