In Trump’s Snap at the WHO, China Wins: COVID-19 Marks the End of the American Era



“The WHO … likely caused a twentyfold increase in cases worldwide.”

In the midst of the pandemic, President Donald Trump announced at a press conference on April 14 that he would end American funding for the World Health Organization. Let’s look at his remarks posted on the White House website:

“Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of COVID-19 … American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less. As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.”

Trump states that the WHO is responsible for the following:

1) Opposing travel restrictions on China and other countries, as border control is fundamental to contain the virus;

2) Accepting China’s reports through mid-January that there was no human-to-human transmission occurring, despite credible information to suspect such transmission as early as December. Taiwan, which has been unable to become a member of the WHO due to Chinese interference, contacted the WHO on Dec. 31 about human-to-human transmission;

3) Keeping silent with regard to the disappearance of researchers and doctors, as well as the restrictions on sharing research into the origins of COVID-19;

4) Not sending medical experts into China during the early stages or calling out China’s lack of transparency. Had the WHO taken these measures, it would have been able to contain the outbreak at the source and reduced the number of deaths;

5) Defending China’s actions and praising its transparency, which led to a twentyfold increase in cases worldwide;

6) Maintaining a dangerous bias toward China, which finances only one-tenth that of the United States’ budget contribution to the WHO; and

7) On Jan. 22, convening the first Emergency Committee for COVID-19, yet postponing the declaration of a global health emergency until Jan. 30.

Replacing Director-General Tedros Adhanom Will Not Change Anything

Let me pause to add one thing, that Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the epicenter of Wuhan and issued a gag order. The very next day, on March 11, the WHO declared the virus to be a pandemic.

As you can see from the graph in this article, the U.S. is what we could call the “largest shareholder” of the WHO. The WHO’s budget is revised every two years and totals about $5.6 billion for 2018-2019, of which the U.S. contributed about 15%, or roughly $890 million.

Having ticked off its top contributor, Director-General Tedros stated at a press conference on April 15, “The United States of America has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so. We regret the decision of the president of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization.”

America has been funding the WHO since its founding in 1948, and this will hit it hard. Dr. Tedros is in the difficult position of needing to navigate between Chinese and American influence, but even Europe is showing resentment of the fact that if China had disclosed the information properly, the world would have been much more prepared.

China’s strategy is to assert only its rights to the fullest extent possible while shirking responsibility to the international organization. It is doing this by making itself out to be a developing country, despite being a major power. It is winning over countries around the world through bilateral diplomacy, using economic cooperation and COVID-19 support as leverage.

Dr. Tedros is not the only one who can’t stand up to China; even if Trump succeeds in pressuring the WHO to replace Dr. Tedros, he would surely just be replaced by another version of himself. Trump’s withdrawal doctrine, not limited to the WHO, only serves to undermine America’s international influence.

China Takes Control of Supply Chains

Developed nations have come to rely on China as the “factory of the world” for a bulk of their supply chains due to extraordinarily low labor costs. According to the multinational financial group Morgan Stanley, China has increased its mask production capacity from 50% of the world’s total to 85% almost overnight.

The fact is that, as it stands, the American superpower cannot produce enough N95 masks. The pandemic has ripped the global supply chain apart, and now it’s no exaggeration to say that China holds our lifeline in the palm of its hand.

President Trump’s statement implies that the world order, largely founded on the freedom and democracy brought about chiefly by international agencies, which the U.S. took a main role in creating after World War II, has started to come crashing down.

China’s ‘Mask Diplomacy’

By sending 1,000 respirators to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for example, China has been actively engaging in “coronavirus diplomacy” with political powers and regions that oppose President Trump.

Huawei, a leading communication equipment manufacturer in China, has also donated masks to Canada and France to persuade them to introduce the next generation wireless network, 5G.

According to Agence France-Presse, China has exported close to 4 billion masks, 16,000 respirators, 37.5 million sets of personal protective equipment, and 2.84 million testing kits since March 1.

The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, sent over 56 tons of personal protective equipment and masks to China in February. In return, China was reported to have donated 2 million surgical masks, 200,000 N95 masks, 50,000 testing kits and 1,000 respirators to Italy.

However, some reports state that Italy was charged for these. Furthermore, Spain spent $467 million for medical equipment, including respirators, masks and gloves, but sent back 50,000 testing kits citing defects. The Netherlands likewise sent back 600,000 masks saying they didn’t meet standards.

Meanwhile, China is ramping up propaganda claiming it is not the epicenter. It is asserting instead that an American serviceperson brought the virus to China during the Military World Games held in Wuhan at the end of Oct. 2019.

Trump Aims To Escape Responsibility

Despite making up only 4.25% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 22.6% of the world’s deaths from COVID-19. Initially, Trump disregarded COVID-19 as a problem for other countries; he praised China and delayed action to expand testing. The American health care system is facing a massive problem.

To close, let’s take a look at the WHO’s reaction and Trump’s remarks. While Dr. Tedros’ closeness with China is problematic, Trump is clearly responsible for not preventing the explosion of infections in the U.S.

The WHO’s Reactions and Trump’s Remarks

Jan. 5: The WHO reports an outbreak of “pneumonia of unknown cause” in Wuhan and advises against any travel or trade restrictions on China.

Jan. 9: The WHO announces, “Chinese authorities have made a preliminary determination of a novel (or new) coronavirus, identified in a hospitalized person with pneumonia in Wuhan.”

Jan. 22: Trump declares, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China … It’s going to be just fine.”

Jan. 23: Dr. Tedros declines to declare a global emergency a stating, “Make no mistake, this is, though, an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency.”

Jan. 24: Trump praises China’s response, saying, “The United States greatly appreciates their [China’s] efforts and transparency.”

Jan. 30: The WHO declares a global health emergency. Trump says, “Now we’re working very strongly with China on the coronavirus.”

Feb. 2: Trump closes the border to travelers from China.

Feb. 4: Dr. Tedros asks not to impose travel or trade restrictions.

Feb. 10: Trump says, “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April.”

Feb. 11: Dr. Tedros calls on world leaders to prioritize containment of the virus.

Feb. 24: Trump tweets, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Feb. 27: Trump states, “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

March 5: Dr. Tedros praises China and the U.S.

March 11: The WHO declares a pandemic. Trump says, “The vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very low.”

March 16: Dr. Tedros urges testing, saying, “We cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.” Trump encourages bans on gatherings of more than 10 people, avoiding eating at bars and restaurants, and distance education.

March 26: Dr. Tedros states, “We are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart.”

April 7: Trump criticizes the WHO for being “very China-centric.”

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