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World Health Organization or China Health Organization?

World Health Organization or China Health Organization?

posted by: Brett Cornwell
Secretary, Model United Nations
New Mexico State University

April 21, 2020


Following the United States’ choice to withdraw funds from the World Health Organization (WHO), criticism has been thrown from all sides at what many consider to be a massive blunder from the “Leader of the Free World.” Citizens to politicians have widely railed against this decision and acted accordingly, such as Germany’s move to increase its own financial contributions to the WHO and the star-studded “One World Together” virtual concert prepared by a number of music stars to raise funds. However, not everyone is as accepting of the WHO, with other governments such as Japan, Australia, and Taiwan offering plenty of criticism for the organization, its  alleged “China-centric” view, and its perceived role in aiding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in covering up the accurate death-count of COVID-19. The WHO, which receives most of its funds through willing contributions by its constituent Member States, has recently seen a steady growth in funds by the Chinese government, a fact which has only riled up more debate among the WHO’s members. Following the WHO’s inspection of China, a public health emergency was not declared until January 30th, 2020, eight days after the formal conclusion of its report and praise of the CCP’s role in preventing the virus’ spread on January 22nd, 2020.

In Japan, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso spoke before the Japanese Diet, the equivalent of the Japanese Parliament, on April 1st, declaring that the WHO should be renamed to the “China Health Organization” due to its failure to declare an international health emergency sooner despite the organization’s inspection of China in January. Aso’s belief that the Chinese government deliberately misreported the accurate number of infections corroborates the opinion of Dr. Deborah Brix, the White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator. In her statement, she cited her belief that “the medical community interpreted Chinese data as serious but smaller than anyone expected” due to the missing data. Across the South China Sea, Taiwan, a non-member of the WHO due the United Nations’ recognition of the CCP as the legitimate Chinese government, has been widely praised for its efficiency in combating the virus despite lacking foreign aid. The small island country has lashed out against the WHO in response to this same sense of inaction, citing its own correspondence with the Organization as early as December 31st, 2019, in regards to the possible threat of the virus. In spite of the WHO’s contention with the validity of this claim, the White House has backed Taiwan’s claims and demanded an answer as to why the organization had failed to respond, once again citing a possible bias towards the CCP. In Australia, Foreign Minister Marise Payne decided to challenge the WHO, demanding an inquiry into its role in China as well as for the CCP to be transparent and display the accurate number of deaths up front. This follows a sudden and disproportionate growth in the number of dead provided by the East Asian powerhouse with over 1,290 deaths reported on April 17th alone in comparison to the previous total amount dead of 3,342. In an attempt to save face and prevent too much undue discussion regarding possible mistakes, the CCP has refused to answer or respond to most claims. 

It should be noted however that the WHO, with its role as a subsidiary to the United Nations, is stuck in a balancing act between a number of Member States experiencing extreme amounts of stress and fatigue in light of this crisis. Beyond that, China is far from the only country to have made mistakes in regards to handling the spreading pandemic, as failures to implement easy-access testing throughout the United States early on into the crisis has led to a discrepancy in the number of infected, as well as the ever rising concern that reopening the economy could exact a heavy toll through more deaths. Because of this, the motivation behind questioning the Chinese and the role they played in the spreading of Covid-19 could be a method for the Trump Administration and other ailing governments to find a scapegoat to distract the public from their own mistakes. However, one thing is certain: as this crisis continues, it is likely that pointing fingers and searching for someone to blame, as well as demands for a proper inquiry into both the WHO and the CCP are likely to rise as pressure continues to mount against the governments of the world.