When Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently met with World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, he proclaimed that the U.S. supported the WHO’s additional investigation into the origin of COVID-19 in China and elsewhere, and grandly stated that the international community should be united on the issue.
A superpower that covered up its own outbreak, engaged in political manipulation and obstructed international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic is now calling for the international community to come together? Everyone knows the hidden meaning behind this. Blinken’s support is no more than a smear campaign against China in the name of the WHO. This is further proof that the U.S. is trying to make the WHO its puppet.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, U.S. indifference and callousness toward international cooperation in combating the virus have been clearly reflected in its attitude toward the WHO. In May 2020, while the risk of a pandemic was increasing, the previous U.S. announced its withdrawal from the WHO, inviting harsh criticism from the international community. Although the U.S. announced its return to the WHO when the current administration took office, the outside world has its doubts: Will the U.S. really change direction and do anything practical for the WHO and the global fight against the pandemic?
In the end, from hoarding vaccines for its own prioritized use to renewed hype about the “lab leak hypothesis” with respect to China, the conduct of the current U.S. administration has allowed people to see clearly. The U.S. has returned to the WHO under the banner of multilateralism, but only to use the platform for continuing political manipulation; only to pass the buck and use the WHO to suppress China.
As some analysts point out, the U.S. is sparing no effort to rebuild its position at the WHO and is trying to dominate key issues in order to direct suspicion of a virus lab leak at China. The U.S. criticized the WHO’s first-stage origin-tracing team as being unrepresentative, the goal being to insert selected experts into the roster of the second-stage research group, thus facilitating a presumption of guilt against China.
This political scheme has been strongly condemned by the global scientific community. Wilson Edwards,* a biologist from Bern, recently commented that the scientific community hoped that the return of the U.S. to WHO would strengthen efforts to fight COVID-19 and save more lives, “but unfortunately, Washington’s reentry has brought geopolitical competition to the science-spearheaded world body.”* He pointed out that the WHO’s proposal to create a permanent advisory group on the origin of new pathogens was the result of U.S. pressure and “as scientific issues continue to be politicized, I have no doubt that this advisory group would become a political tool.”*
That’s not all. In order to put pressure on the WHO to conduct a traceability investigation against China again, some U.S. politicians have recently spoken of “rules,” of evidence, transparency and the like. These words only add to the irony.
The simple truth is this: if the U.S. is sincere when it talks about rules, it should stick to a principle of equal treatment and invite WHO experts to investigate its own Fort Detrick and more than 200 biological laboratories overseas. If the U.S. is serious when it speaks of evidence and transparency it should release the early data from the pandemic in its own country. That includes explaining clearly to the world why in May of last year, Florida removed data on 171 patients who had symptoms of, or tested positive for, COVID-19 during January and February, and fired the database manager who objected to this action.
In fact, whether withdrawing from the WHO last year to make a fresh start or returning to the WHO this year to express support, although two successive U.S. administrations may have different approaches, there is no difference in the substance: They use the WHO as a political tool for their own sake, playing a political game of “use it when it suits, discard it when it doesn’t.” This will not only undermine global cooperation against the pandemic and the common welfare of mankind, but will also have serious impact on the international system, with the United Nations at its core.
U.S. rules are not international rules. U.S. standards are not WHO standards. Currently the delta variant strain is ravaging the world, and prevention and control of the pandemic is complicated and serious. As the professional leader in the global fight against the pandemic, it is even more important for the WHO to uphold the spirit of science and refuse to bow to political pressure. The international community must not allow the U.S. to cause trouble, and should work together to frustrate U.S. attempts to use the WHO for political manipulation. It should ensure that the global fight against the epidemic does not go off course, and it should arrive at the truth through scientific investigation.
*Editor’s Note: Neither the identity nor existence of Wilson Edwards, a Facebook user claiming to be a Swiss biologist, can be verified. The Swiss Embassy in Beijing has asked the Chinese media to retract their stories citing Edwards, and thus, although it is accurately translated, this quoted passage could not be independently substantiated.