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US attack against WHO will backfire

By Andre Vltchek | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-15 07:06


For decades, the United States has been antagonistic to the most important international organization in the world: the United Nations. It is because the UN has periodically rebelled and refused to take direct diktats from Washington.

Although greatly influenced by the West, the UN has always insisted on a certain degree of independence, for which it has been criticized, bullied and even directly "punished" by several US administrations. Western countries, especially the US, have sporadically cut or frozen their contributions to the UN, intimidated member states, and bought the votes of many small countries to serve the interests of the West.

When intimidation didn't work, and when the UN still insisted on acting independently, the US opted for direct action, as happened in 2018, when it withdrew from the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, leaving behind unpaid bills of more than $1 billion.

Now again, sparks are flying and threats, as well as derogatory statements, are being issued with chilling arrogance and an air of superiority. This time the target is the World Health Organization, led by director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The White House is doing all it can to cover up its failure to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, which by Tuesday had infected more than 553,000 people and claimed nearly 22,000 lives in the US according to WHO data, and forced millions into the unemployment queues.

Yet Washington snaps at people and organizations that dare to speak or write the truth: that it was China which first confronted the pandemic, and after largely controlling it at home, saving countless lives in the process thanks to its astute leadership and courage, is now extending a helping hand to other countries.

Tedros has been working with China to combat the global threat, promoting its approach, and suggesting that the US follow China's example. But the US has consistently refused to take advice from the UN health organization or from China. It has launched a shameless and deeply insulting smear campaign against both Beijing and the WHO, instead of taking stringent measures to contain the virus in the US. As a result, thousands of American people have died, unnecessarily.

As the BBC reported on April 4: "The WHO approved a coronavirus test in January-but the US decided against using it, developing its own test instead. However, in February, when the testing kits were dispatched, some of them did not work properly, and led to inconclusive results. Public health experts say the delay enabled the virus to spread further within the US."

The White House has accused the WHO, on several occasions, of being "China-centric", which in the lexicon of the Western media translates as a "tremendous crime", and "unwilling to replicate attacks against China, which originate in Washington, London, and other Western capitals".

And that's what the US leader recently tweeted: "The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look."

"Giving that a good look" means threatening to cut the US' funding to the WHO, perhaps first by about half, and later completely.

If the US stops contributing to the WHO, it would be a blow to the global health body, but definitely not the end of the world. Listening to the US leader, one would think that the US fully funds the UN health organization. That is not the case. The US contribution amounts to just more than 10 percent of the WHO's total budget.

As reported by Radio France Internationale: "According to its 2018 financial statement, the organization received a total of $2.74 billion in funding … The largest contributors are the US, with $281 million, the UK ($205 million), Germany ($154 million) and Japan ($86 million)."

Essentially, the White House is blackmailing the UN again, which is particularly disgraceful at a time when millions of lives are in danger, and when the WHO is perhaps the most qualified international organization in terms of its ability to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic. It is stretched, overwhelmed, but fighting for the survival of millions.

No wonder Tedros responded to the US' meddling and criticism, saying: "The United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy (COVID-19)…"The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don't politicize this virus. 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."

Washington's allies, particularly those in Taiwan, joined the spiteful campaign against Tedros, allegedly even insulting him for being "black".

Using personal attacks against top medical experts, and threatening to cut the funding as a tool to muzzle the UN, may backfire. Such an approach is nothing but intimidation, and the world is watching. This is not how billions of people want to be governed. Not anymore. There are definitely much better alternatives.

This is an extremely complex historical moment for our planet, a moment when entire political and moral concepts are being re-written and re-thought. And despite the malicious Western propaganda campaign, China and its partner countries are gaining recognition across the world, as their political systems are seen as more successful, and more humane than those in many West countries.

The author is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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