Report: WHO Officials Complained Privately as Leaders Publicly Praised China's 'Transparency,' Downplayed Virus

Posted: Jun 03, 2020 10:25 AM
Report: WHO Officials Complained Privately as Leaders Publicly Praised China's 'Transparency,' Downplayed Virus

Source: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

It's hard to keep track of all the news that's been happening, due to sheer volume -- but within just the last few days, President Trump announced that the United States government was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization, as well as imposing new sanctions on Chinese government officials responsible for the unlawful and totalitarian crackdown on civil and political rights in Hong Kong. The Trump administration had previously leveled visa restrictions over China's human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities.

The WHO decision comes on the heels of a temporary halt is US financial contributions to that body, from which the administration demanded answers and reforms, but to no avail. While the WHO has an important mission to serve, its current leadership is hopelessly compromised and its actions contributed to the spread of misinformation about the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Now that the United States has severed ties with the organization, at least for the moment, this report from the Associated Press shines a brighter spotlight on the problem:

Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.” But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found. Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents. Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January — all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed.

China was lying to the world -- it is still doing so -- and suppressing information. Rather than sounding the alarm and pressuring Beijing to produce crucial information "at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed," WHO's leadership lavished praise on the Communist regime. Even if this was intended as a cajoling strategy, the coddling and lap-doggery of China, which hand-selected current WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus, was disgraceful. Tedros and the WHO continued to applaud China throughout the process, even infamously sharing costly misinformation about the disease's human-to-human transmissibility. And all the while, Tedros and his team echoed Chinese propaganda lines, such as denouncing criticisms as "racist" and criticizing US travel restrictions.

The World Health Organization -- which continues to exclude Taiwan to appease China, despite Taiwan's effective response to COVID-19 -- has finally agreed to an independent probe, which China continues to resist through bullying and threats. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with survivors of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, as the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government has taken this extraordinary step:

Police denied an application by organizers of an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, amid concerns over civil liberties after China said it would impose national-security legislation on the city...This would be the first time in three decades that a mass memorial isn’t held in the city. Since Chinese soldiers and tanks forcibly swept away students gathering to demand democracy in Beijing in 1989, tens of thousands have turned out each year in Hong Kong to light candles, call for justice for the victims and chant against China’s one-party rule...Opposition groups have accused the government of exploiting social distancing laws by extending them to June 4 to prevent street protests against China’s planned legislation and memorials to mark the Tiananmen anniversary, which Beijing has thus far tolerated. Hong Kong is the only place on Chinese soil where such massive demonstrations, which feature chants and banners denouncing the central government in Beijing, had been tolerated. On the mainland, mention of the massacre isn’t condoned.

Things are getting awfully dark in Hong Kong. And while some of America's political response has been idiotic, some stronger steps have been taken in a bipartisan fashion. The administration and Congress is taking action and speaking out amid China's jack-booting of Hong Kongers' liberties, drawing angry responses from the Communists. I'll leave you with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's floor remarks on this subject:

The Great Democratic Panic
Byron York