Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, March 26, 2020
From the very start of the coronavirus crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has circulated Chinese propaganda about the outbreak. That is not surprising given who the world health body’s current director-general is, reports say.
China essentially put Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in charge of the WHO and now he is running interference for Xi Jinping’s communist regime on the coronavirus pandemic, analysts say.
In the initial days of the outbreak, the WHO repeated the false claim from the Chinese government that there is “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” associated with COVID-19. Meanwhile, the disease was spreading rapidly in China precisely due to human-to-human transmission.
The WHO also ignored warnings from Taiwan that China was being dishonest about how the virus is trasmitted. Taiwanese Vice President Chen Chien-jen told the Financial Times last week that the WHO ignored Taiwan because it sides with China in the geo-political dispute over Taiwan.
Related: Timeline of the Wuhan coronavirus, Nov. 17, 2019 to March 21, 2020, March 24, 2020
There is solid evidence that China covered up key facts in the early stages of the outbreak, which included forcing scientists to destroy evidence and censoring media coverage. Still, the director-general praised China’s “transparency.”
“In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response. It’s not an exaggeration,” Tedros said on Jan. 30.
Tedros was also critical of the United States — whom China is blaming for the COVID-19 outbreak — and other countries in early February for restricting travel to and from China. Many health officials say those actions kept the outbreak from being worse than it is.
Bradley A. Thayer, professor of political science at the University of Texas-San Antonio, and Lianchao Han, vice president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China, wrote in a March 17 op-ed for The Hill: “From the outset, Tedros has defended China despite its gross mismanagement of the highly contagious disease. As the number of cases and the death toll soared, the WHO took months to declare the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, even though it had met the criteria of transmission between people, high fatality rates and worldwide spread.”
Thayer and Han noted that China had recently pledged $20 million to help the WHO fight the coronavirus outbreak, “for which Tedros thanked Xi. But we note China’s connections to Tedros’s homeland of Ethiopia, now called East Africa’s ‘Little China’ because it has become China’s bridgehead to influence Africa and a key to China’s Belt and Road initiative there. Indeed, China has invested heavily in Ethiopia.”
The Daily Caller noted that Tedros had worked closely with China during his time as Ethiopia’s health minister, and China backed Tedros’s 2017 bid for WHO director-general. “Tedros won the election despite widely covered accusations that he covered up three different cholera epidemics as health minister in Ethiopia,” the Daily Caller noted. Though he goes by “Dr. Tedros,” the WHO chief isn’t a medical doctor. He has a PhD in public health.
Washington Post columnist Frida Ghitis noted that China “worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help Tedros defeat the United Kingdom candidate for the WHO job, David Nabarro. Tedros’s victory was also a victory for Beijing, whose leader Xi Jinping has made public his goal of flexing China’s muscle in the world.”
Stephen L. Miller noted in a March 24 op-ed for Spectator USA that “Since the coronavirus has become a global pandemic, halting the world’s economy in its tracks, Tedros has taken it upon himself to repeat Chinese state talking points about shifting blame for their own role in the spread of the virus: ‘When fighting an outbreak such as #COVID19, we must be guided by solidarity, not stigma. The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other. We must stop stigma and hate!’
“This has been a familiar refrain from the Chinese state, whose government runs forced labor and concentration camps. China repeatedly eludes scrutiny by not only the head of WHO but sectors of the American media as well.”
Miller added: “The whole organization is evidently unfit for purpose: it needs to be abolished and replaced. Tedros’s goal seems to be turning the WHO into another United Nations, a body that delivers impotent lectures without ever taking politically sensitive decisions. The world demands accountability and action. It demands both come from the country behind this all and its puppet leader at the WHO.”
Thayer and Han concluded: “The coronavirus pandemic has shown that Tedros is not fit to lead the WHO. Because of his leadership, the world may have missed a critical window to halt the pandemic or mitigate its virulence. The world is now battling rising infections and many countries have imposed restrictions. As leader of the WHO, Tedros should be held accountable for his role in mismanaging efforts to control the spread of the virus.”