After months of misinformation, outright lies, and a less-than-subtle presentation of Chinese propaganda as factual, the World Health Organization (WHO) has finally drawn the attention and ire of President Donald Trump. Is the WHO really shilling for China? And if so, to what extent? In the midst of a Coronavirus pandemic, playing political games and bestowing favors risk far more than the respectability of a formerly highly regarded institution.
The president displayed his anger at the poor WHO track record and hinted that a day of reckoning may soon come. He tweeted:
“The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
This was followed by a scathing press conference at which he outlined how poorly the WHO has been managing the crisis.
How Honest Is WHO?
The World Health Organization has supported and praised China’s response just about every step of the way, lauding China’s speed in sequencing the Coronavirus genome and effusively praising the measures the regime imposed. In the WHO’s eyes, China can do no wrong.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gushed:
“We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated.”
Transparency? If there is one concept that has bridged the political divide in recent weeks, it is that China has not been “transparent.” When questioned on the WHO’s supposed independence with regards to China, Tedros explained:
“I know there is a lot of pressure on WHO when we appreciate what China is doing but because of pressure we should not fail to tell the truth. We don’t say anything to appease anyone. It’s because it’s the truth.
“We are giving qualified recognition and actually my call is, please, let’s recognize as a world, as a globe what China is doing and help them and show solidarity.”
The organization relies on data from member states, collates it, and responds using this information. Taiwan, which has been trying to give its data to the WHO, has been soundly rejected. Serious calls over the years to allow Taiwan membership have been ignored or glossed over by the leadership. These are clearly cases of China exerting its influence.
China seems to predominate the actions and statements of the WHO. Even CNN published an analysis piece that surmised:
“Just as Beijing’s sway at the United Nations means that Taiwan is likely never to regain its seat there, the WHO is unlikely to reverse course on this issue until Beijing does. While Taiwan’s allies have spoken out in favor of it since the coronavirus outbreak began, China has far more diplomatic clout that it can bring to bear.
“And this is the fundamental problem with the WHO: it cannot treat member states equally because they are not equal.”
China – Master of Fake News
It would be easy to assume that China’s faulty figures imply a much higher cost to human life is on its way, but the computer models of Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and others cannot be trusted if their baseline data was fiddled with by the Chinese in the first place.
From spreading fake news about the origins of COVID-19 to massive underreporting of the numbers of infected (thereby inflating the fatality rate), the Chinese government has been playing a dangerous game with the health, economies, and well-being of the world. Various sources have questioned the veracity of the information coming from China. Hard to ignore are reports of medical professionals in the Middle Kingdom who have been silenced or disappeared altogether.
The head of emergency at Wuhan Central Hospital, Dr. Ai Fen, went public with her claim that government authorities had prevented her and her colleagues from releasing information to warn the world of the coming health crisis. As of this writing, Ai Fen’s whereabouts are unknown. She is believed to have been the first doctor to alert others that information suppression was taking place when she shared a picture of a report of a patient suffering a SARS-like coronavirus infection weeks before the COVID-19 news went public.
That the Chinese government lied about the scale of the virus is no longer news fit only for the fringe.
- The New York Times wrote: “In a rare public admission of failure, if not deception, the Chinese government disclosed today that cases of a dangerous new respiratory disease were many times higher than previously reported.”
- The Washington Post reported: “It is also likely that officials reported lower numbers of deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Especially once the central government’s propaganda mission to win the ‘people’s war’ against the virus became clear, numbers shifted to achieve that vision.”
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been warned by scientific advisers that China could have downplayed the real numbers by a “factor of 15 to 40 times.”
President Trump will once again be dragged through the media mud for calling out an organization that has performed a grave disservice to the United States and the rest of the world. Investigative journalists will not investigate, senior politicians will not demand reform or accountability, and the World Health Organization will continue to be touted as the very model of fairness. This will be just one more cudgel with which to beat down the president.
Read more from Mark Angelides.
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