（Photo source: Xinhua）
Established officially on April 7, 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) was aimed at improving people’s health worldwide. The past more than 70 years have seen the irreplaceable role played by the WHO in responding to global public health crises. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the WHO has played a vital role as a coordinator in global anti-pandemic cooperation by striving to maintain global public health security. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres once said, “It is absolutely crucial for WHO to gain support in the global effort to defeat the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
However, as one of the worst-hit areas, the US has not only hindered global anti-pandemic progress, but also stood in the way of the WHO’s normal functioning. In the early stage of the outbreak, the US repeatedly criticized the WHO to avoid responsibility for the pandemic and shift domestic pressure. In the past six months, the US had created a farce by further intensifying its threat to the WHO, especially on virus tracing. The WHO wavered under pressure of the aggressive “hegemonic diplomacy” of the US, raising doubts about its authority. In a nutshell, the US has bullied the WHO in three aspects. As a result, the international community must keep sober awareness of the bullying, so as to prevent the US from wantonly trampling on fairness and justice in international public health.
The first step is to suspend dollars support and threaten with withdrawal. Former US President Donald Trump criticized the WHO for favoring China at a press conference held at the White House in April 2020, accusing the WHO of erroneous judgments and misinformation that spread the pandemic worldwide. Subsequently, the Trump administration even announced due payment suspension to the WHO, and demanded that the WHO be held accountable for its actions in the pandemic. The absurdity was unpopular. As soon as this remark came out, it was immediately opposed by many countries who demanded that the US stop its irrational behavior. But President Trump did not give up. At a White House press conference in May, he directly announced the relationship termination between the US and the WHO and transferred the dues that should have been paid to the organization elsewhere. According to the WHO, the US had not paid its membership fees for 2019 yet, let alone cashing the 2020 empty check. At that time, the US owed the WHO more than $200 million in total.
The US owed money but threatened not to pay back, playing its old tricks. According to the UN website, the US, as the largest contributor to the UN regular and peacekeeping budget, had been in arrears for many years. By September 30, 2020, the US owed the UN as high as $1.09 billion for regular assessments, accounting for 73% of the total unpaid dues. In addition, the US also owed $1.388 billion in peacekeeping assessments. In total, the US owed the UN nearly $2.5 billion.
Secondly, the US has colluded with its allies to engage in public opinion wars to obstruct virus tracing. On March 30 this year, the WHO released a report: WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part. Joint WHO-China Study. The report concluded that it's a “likely to very likely pathway” for the virus to infect humans through an intermediate host, while introduction of the virus through a laboratory incident was “extremely unlikely”. The origin-tracing research is scientific, authoritative and credible work that should be carried out by global first-level epidemiologists. However, the conclusions of the report infuriated American politicians who wanted to make a fuss about the virus origin. On the day the report was released, the US gathered 13 allies to question the report publicly. Despite authoritative conclusions of the WHO, Western countries led by the US still exaggerated the so-called "Wuhan Lab Leak" and "China Compensation" theories, targeting China by manipulating public opinions. The core concern behind these moves was no longer the pandemic itself, and anti-intellectualism has replaced science. These behaviors had imposed a very unfavorable impact on the WHO operation and the global pandemic response. The WHO's central position in global health governance has been challenged. Justice lives in people’s hearts. Recently, nearly 70 countries have opposed politicization of the origin tracing by writing to the WHO Director General, issuing statements and notes in order to support the China-WHO joint report on virus tracing.
Thirdly, the US put pressure on WHO personnel in an attempt to establish “American rules” for virus origin tracing. Recently, the WHO Secretariat made a sudden change of tune and proposed second-phase origin tracing in China, which is directly related to the pressure from the US. After the Biden administration came to power, it quickly rolled back Trump’s decision to withdraw from the WHO and returned. The purpose was to rebuild US influence in the WHO to dominate key issues, turning US rules into international standards. At the World Health Assembly in May, the US representative pressured the WHO using “science and transparency” as an excuse, and directly targeted China by requesting a second investigation of the virus source in China. The US will also pay up the arrears to the WHO as a “correction fee” to push for the second-phase investigation.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration started a new investigation of the COVID-19 origin conducted by its intelligence agencies in an attempt to force the WHO to endorse the American origin tracing. On July 28, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the WHO Director General to discuss virus origin tracing.
WHO scientists also laid bare such political pressure. WHO expert Dmitry Lwoff said that many WHO experts, including himself, were facing pressure from the US, because “these Americans did not want virologists to tell the truth about the pandemic”. The current “American logic” is that the WHO's research results are unreliable if they do not meet the US standards. Also, experts who do not speak for the US is disrespectful of “science”. Such coercion is becoming the norm between the US and the WHO.
The past year or so has seen the WHO play an important role at the center of the global anti-pandemic fight. As a result, the WHO deserves the joint maintenance and global support. The virus is constantly mutating, and the pandemic keeps assaulting. It is conceivable that the arbitrary US coercion and manipulation of the WHO will not only bring severe challenges to global multilateral cooperation, but also prolong the global anti-pandemic progress. In the face of such bullying, the international community should join hands to safeguard the authority of the WHO and maintain the healthy development of the global public health governance mechanism.
Contributed by Guan Zhaoyu
Translated by Wu You