The United States has threatened to pull its funding from the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming that it has been badly corrupted by China. This view has been backed up by Stanford University’s Lanhee J. Chen:
The World Health Organization isn’t just “China centric,” as President Trump called it on Tuesday. It is also broken and compromised. The WHO fell short in its dithering reaction to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which claimed more than 11,000 lives. Now its response to the coronavirus pandemic shows it is willing to put politics ahead of public health. The way the WHO has consistently acted to placate China’s leaders makes clear the need for fundamental reform.
The U.S. is the biggest financial contributor to the WHO—more than $400 million in 2019, when China sent only $44 million, according to the U.S. State Department. Mr. Trump suggested that the U.S. might hold its funding while his administration takes a “good look” at what the country is getting for its money. He and Congress should go further.
While Washington pays, Beijing works behind the scenes to influence WHO leaders. The current director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was backed strongly by the Chinese government during his campaign for the job. Mr. Tedros was a controversial pick, dogged by allegations of having covered up cholera outbreaks in his native Ethiopia, where he served as health minister (2005-12) and foreign minister (2012-16). During those years, China invested in Ethiopia and lent it billions of dollars. Shortly after winning his WHO election, Mr. Tedros traveled to Beijing and lauded the country’s health-care system: “We can all learn something from China.”
Under Mr. Tedros’s leadership, the WHO has accepted China’s falsehoods about the coronavirus and helped launder them into respectable-looking public-health assessments…
On Jan. 14, before an official WHO delegation had even visited China, the group parroted Beijing’s claim that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.” Two weeks later, after China had reported more than 4,500 cases of the virus and over 70 people in other countries were sick with it, Mr. Tedros visited China and heaped praise on its leaders for their “transparency.”
Recall that China waited six weeks after patients first saw symptoms in Wuhan to institute a lockdown there. During this time Chinese authorities censored and punished physicians who tried to sound the alarm, repeatedly denied that the virus could be transmitted between humans, and held a public banquet in Wuhan for tens of thousands of families. In the meantime, more than five million people left or fled Wuhan…
The WHO finally declared a public-health emergency on Jan. 30, after nearly 10,000 cases of the virus had been confirmed…
It’s a fair argument. The WHO acted far too late and has placated China at every turn. Even in early February, when it was clear that the coronavirus had become a pandemic, the WHO said there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” and commended China for taking necessary measures to contain the virus.
The below report from World is One News (WION) prosecutes the case well, arguing that WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has “ignored China’s criminal negligence” and has “turned a blind eye to China’s actions”. WION also claims that Dr Ghebreyesus’s appointment to WHO Director-General was bankrolled by China:
Where there’s smoke there’s fire. No wonder the WHO is now referred to by some as the “Wuhan Health Organization”.