It’s war: Embattled WHO chief in heated exchanges with USA, Taiwan

by WorldTribune Staff, April 9, 2020

President Donald Trump intends to continue asking “tough questions” of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the WHO’s director-general launched into a tirade over criticism of the organization’s repeating Chinese propaganda on the extent of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. officials say.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu and U.S. President Donald Trump

Trump has called the WHO “China-centric” and said the UN body “missed the call” when it came to the coronavirus. Trump adviser Peter Navarro on April 8 slammed WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu as one of China’s “proxies.”

Tedros warned Trump against politicizing the coronavirus crisis “if you don’t want many more body bags.”

“At the end of the day, the people belong to all political parties. The focus of all political parties should be to save their people, please do not politicize this virus,” Tedros said in a virtual press briefing. “If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.”

Trump fired back: “So when he say’s politicizing he’s politicizing, and he shouldn’t be. I can’t believe he’s talking about politics when look at the relationship they have to China.”

Trump has threatened to cut off the WHO’s supply of money from the United States, saying “we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it. And we’re going to see. It’s a great thing when it works but when they call every shot wrong that’s not good. They are always on the side of China.”

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News host Sean Hannity on April 8: “This is a president who believes in accountability, and the American taxpayers provide tens of millions of dollars to the World Health Organization. And as the president said yesterday, I suspect we will continue to do that, but that doesn’t mean that at the right time in the future we aren’t going to ask the tough questions about how the World Health Organization could have been so wrong.”

Pence added: “Literally at the time President Trump stood up the coronavirus task force in January and suspended all travel from China, just days before that, the World Health Organization was continuing to diminish the threat of the coronavirus and its impact in China. We’ll get to the answers of that and we’ll create accountability, just like the American people would want us to do.”

Navarro, in an interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum, said “The U.N. itself has 15 specialized agencies, including the WHO. What China has been doing very aggressively over the last decade is to try to gain control of those by electing people to the top. It already controls five of the 15, also, by using proxies, colonial-like proxies, like Tedros at the WHO.”

Navarro continued: “As you can see in this crisis, the damage [done by] that kind of control by China [of] the key health organization has been absolutely enormous. They suppressed the human to human transmission [data], they refused to call it a pandemic.”

House Republican Conference chair Liz Cheney said on April 9 that Tedros “absolutely should go.”

“[W]e’re in a situation where having somebody who is a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party running the WHO is costing lives around the world,” Cheney told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And in order for that organization to play anywhere near the role we need it to play, it needs a new director, certainly.”

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign ministry on April 9 strongly protested accusations from Tedros that the self-governing island was linked to and condoned racist personal attacks on him, The Associated Press reported.

A ministry statement expressed “strong dissatisfaction and a high degree of regret” with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ remarks at a press briefing in Geneva. It requested he “immediately correct his unfounded allegations, immediately clarify, and apologize to our country.”

At the press briefing, Tedros defended himself and the UN health agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He accused Taiwan’s foreign ministry of being linked to a months-long campaign against him and said that since the emergence of the new coronavirus, he has been personally attacked, including receiving at times, death threats and racist abuse.

“This attack came from Taiwan,” said Tedros. He said Taiwanese diplomats were aware of the attacks but did not dissociate themselves from them. “They even started criticizing me in the middle of all those insults and slurs. I say it today because it’s enough.”

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also weighed in, saying on Facebook: “If Director-General Tedros could withstand pressure from China and come to Taiwan to see Taiwan’s efforts to fight COVID-19 for himself, he would be able to see that the Taiwanese people are the true victims of unfair treatment. I believe that the WHO will only truly be complete if Taiwan is included.”

Tsai was referring to Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO at China’s insistence.

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