by WorldTribune Staff, April 10, 2020
When the term of World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, a Chinese citizen, ended in 2017, the regime of Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping pushed hard for Ethiopian microbiologist Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as her successor.
“When you look at Tedros, Beijing really campaigned for him because they realized they weren’t going to get two in a row,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China” (2001).
Tedros has been accused of toeing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) line rather than protecting world health amid the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
Despite reports that China knew the pathogen was highly contagious in December, WHO issued a Jan. 10 statement opposing international travel restrictions, backing Beijing’s position. U.S. President Donald Trump defied the WHO by cutting off travel to and from China on Jan. 31.
Then came WHO’s infamous Jan. 14 tweet which parroted Chinese propaganda: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus.”
Other statements by Tedros “have not aged well,” Valerie Richardson noted in an April 9 analysis for The Washington Times. That included his Jan. 28 praise after meeting with Xi about the “commitment from top [Chinese] leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated.”
Taiwanese officials said they alerted WHO of the contagion risk in late December, but were ignored. The Chinese Health Ministry announced that the novel coronavirus was passed from human to human on Jan. 20.
Related: Taiwan says its December warnings on coronavirus were ignored by China-friendly WHO, March 22, 2020
Chang tweeted on April 9: “There’s no time to waste” in getting you out of the #WorldHealthOrganization. Resign now, Dr. #Tedros, if you have any sense of humanity left.”
Chang added: “You look at the actions of two parties, China and the WHO, and together they took a local outbreak that should have never gotten beyond Wuhan or maybe Hubei Province, and they turned it into a nationwide epidemic in China. And then a global pandemic.”
Tedros, who holds a doctorate in community health, is also the first non-physician director of the WHO. Richardson noted that “he rose through the ranks as a member of Ethiopia’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front, serving as the leftist government’s minister of health, then foreign affairs.”
Tedros’s ascension, Richardson noted, “came amid a decades-long campaign by China to install its officials, in some cases non-Chinese proxies, atop international organizations.”
That tactic by China has been gaining scrutiny as the WHO is accused of botching its coronavirus response by acting as a “puppet of the Chinese Communist Party,” as Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican, put it.
Peter Navarro, assistant to Trump on trade and manufacturing, said that China now effectively controls five of the 15 UN specialized agencies, which includes the WHO.
“What China has been doing very, very aggressively over the last decade is to try to gain control of those [agencies] by electing people at the top,” Mr. Navarro said on Fox’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”
“It already controls five of the 15, and also by using proxies, colonial-type proxies like Tedros, at the WHO. You can see in this crisis the damage of that kind of control by China of a key health organization has been just absolutely enormous,” Navarro said.
Founded in 1948, WHO was credited with leading the fight to eradicate smallpox — the agency celebrated last year the 40th anniversary of that milestone — “but in recent years the organization has been faulted for its cumbersome bureaucracy, notably its tardy response to the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic,” Richardson noted.
Trump on April 8 threatened to cut U.S. funding to WHO, accusing the agency of being “China-centric” and that it “really blew it” on the coronavirus, prompting Tedros to slam what he said was “politicizing the virus.”
The U.S. contributed $400 million to the WHO last year. China gave $44 million.
Bruce Aylward, WHO senior adviser to Tedros, argued that it is necessary to take a diplomatic tack with China, adding the agency took the same approach “with every other hard-hit country like Spain, and had nothing to do with China specifically.”
“It was absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible, to get on the ground and work with the Chinese to understand this,” Dr. Aylward said at a virtual press briefing, as reported by Reuters.
The WHO was able to send a team of experts to China in February, but they were “shunted off to places that were meaningless,” said Chang.
“He [Dr. Aylward] said it’s really critical we get to the origin of this outbreak quickly, implying that the reason they’ve been nice to China is that they needed China’s cooperation. Well, they didn’t get China’s cooperation,” Chang said. “They were stiff-armed. It didn’t work, and it resulted in the further spread of this disease.”
Chang echoed the calls of Republicans such as Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona and Cheney calling for Tedros to resign.
“We should demand the resignation of Tedros, Aylward, every Chinese official in a management position. If they don’t do that, our funding goes to zero,” said Chang. “I know there’s a lot of good doctors there, and I’m sure they’ve done some great work, but on balance, WHO was a malign influence. This disease would not have become a pandemic if not for WHO supporting China’s line.”