China, WHO’s Unholy Marriage: Another World War Boiling?


China may have escaped plenty of international criticisms over the years: on human rights, its aggressive posturing in the South China Sea, and issues of trade and intellectual property. But often, that dissent has come from Beijing’s traditional rivals, such as the US. Many smaller countries have held their tongues, perhaps to ensure their economic ties with China are maintained.

And perhaps it started like a joke when the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, pushed for an investigation into the development and spread of the dreaded coronavirus. Today, over 100 countries of the world backed a resolution at the World Health Assembly (WHO), calling for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic. The European Union-drafted resolution also comes on the back of a push by Australia for an inquiry into China’s initial handling of the crisis.

Accordingly, Australia’s call for an inquiry into the origin of the virus has also been followed by Germany and Britain who are agitating for the invitation of the Chinese tech giant Huawei. Other governments are at the verge of suing Beijing for damages and reparations. Across the globe, a backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the crisis that helped loose the dreaded virus on the world, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and setting back China’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum seemingly left behind by the United States.

Global citizens have seen this as only adding momentum to the blowback and the growing mistrust of China in Europe and Africa, undermining China’s desired image as a generous global actor.

Already, the calamitous virus has spread wide into no fewer than 215 countries across the globe. Between December 2019 and May 2020, the pandemic has infected no fewer than 5,821,077 as at the early hours of Thursday, May 28, 2020. Of this number, while 358,104 persons have already succumbed to its potent destructive power and gone to their early graves, 2,522,202 have survived, leaving almost 3,000,000 active cases.

Among the most infected countries are the United States with 1,747,781; Brazil with 414,661; Russia with 379,051; Spain with 283,849 and the United Kingdom with 267,240. Other countries in this category are Italy with 231,149 and France with 182,913. Similarly, the United States is the most affected with the highest mortality rate having already lost 102,197 persons; followed by the UK with 37,460 deaths; Italy with 33,072 and France with 28,596 deaths. Also in the proportion are Spain with 27,118 deaths; Brazil with 25,697.

This massive loss of human lives would most likely become a source of provocation, especially with the attendant economic implications against the whole world. This forms the backdrop for President Donald Trump’s latest letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) dated May 18, 2020. Mr Trump reminded the WHO of his decision to suspend the United States’ contributions to the World Health Organization pending an investigation by his administration regarding the latter’s failed response to the COVID-19 outbreak. He pointed out that WHO had consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal; failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts, and prolonged taking decisive actions to alert the rest of the world in working against the spread of the virus.


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Reminding WHO of the report by Dr. Zhang Jixian, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, to the China’s health authorities, the information by the Taiwanese authorities communicated to WHO, indicating human-to-human transmission of a new virus which was not acted upon; the report by Dr. Zhang Yongzhen of the Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center to the Chinese authorities on January 5, 2020, which was not publicized but attracted the closure of his lab for “rectification”, Donald Trump expressed open suspicion of possible conspiracy between China and the WHO.

Mr Trump cited how the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, reportedly pressured WHO not to declare the coronavirus outbreak an emergency on January 21, 2020. He recalled that such pronouncement could only be compulsively made by WHO on January 30, 2020, after an overwhelming evidence to the contrary forced the leadership to do so. With a sense of consternation, Trump bitterly recalled how WHO had praised the Chinese government for her “transparency” with respect to the coronavirus, announcing that China had set a “new standard for outbreak control” and “bought the world time”, but without mentioning that China had, by then, silenced or punished several doctors for speaking out about the virus and restricted Chinese institutions from publishing information about it. The US President therefore resolved that in 30 days from May 18, he will consider the action of permanently withdrawing sponsorship of WHO and its membership.

Trump’s letter reads thus in parts:
“The World Health Organization has failed to publicly call on China to allow for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus, despite the recent endorsement for doing so by its own Emergency Committee. The World Health Organization’s failure to do so has prompted World Health Organization member states to adopt the “COVID-19 Response” Resolution at this year’s World Health Assembly, which echoes the call by the United States and so many others for an impartial, independent, and comprehensive review of how the World Health Organization handled the crisis. The resolution also calls for an investigation into the origins of the virus, which is necessary for the world to understand how best to counter the disease.

“That is why it is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”

Of course, it has become consistent that China is pushing back against any criticism pointing to a warning given to the WHO in late December about a potential new strain of pneumonia spreading in the city of Wuhan. China said the call for investigation by President Donald Trump was an attempt to bring back the days of war. “This dangerous attempt to turn back the wheel of history will undo the fruits of decades long China-U.S. cooperation, dampen American’s own development prospects, and put world stability and prosperity in jeopardy,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said recently in a video news conference on the sidelines of the annual session of China’s National People’s Congress.

China may have said the virus started in the Wet Market in Wuhan. But the United States President is insistent that the dreaded virus was a discharge from medical laboratory in China. The arguments are very obvious on whether Trump is right in his assertion or whether both China and the WHO are truthful in their intermarriage of seeming denial, conspiracy or half-truth. What is most important, however, is the potential of human existence from henceforth. WHO is not confident on whether the virus can be stopped outright. But it has not hidden its pessimism that the coronavirus may just have come to stay. But what happens if stronger nations of the world are settled with the idea of taking their own pound of flesh, in retaliation to its lost citizens? Another world war may just be getting set to come.

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