Op-Ed: Coronavirus Is Not the Only Epidemic Coming from China


The novel coronavirus outbreak that originated two months ago in Wuhan, China has become an international emergency.

But parallel to this public health emergency, the Wuhan epidemic has revealed how another virus has infected the single most important international body coordinating efforts to contain the Wuhan epidemic among other epidemics — the World Health Organization. That virus is the Chinese Communist Party – what we will call the CCP virus.

In a news conference on Jan. 30, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which it has labeled COVID-19, a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” The decision came a full week later than it should have been made, for which the WHO received harsh criticism. What caused the delay, which may have resulted in countless preventable deaths?

The answer is that the WHO, through Dr. Tedros, is infected by the CCP virus.

Tedros has put deference to the Communist Party leaders in Beijing ahead of his public health mandate. A few days before finally telling the truth about the full dangers of the coronavirus, he lavishly praised Chinese dictator Xi Jinping. In the Jan. 30 statement, he said, “Let me be clear. This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have the confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.”

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He felt the need to add: “I’ll repeat this. Let me be clear. This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary. WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.”

The WHO has “tapped different search and social media platforms such as Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu, Twitter, TikTok, Weibo, Pinterest, among others to help in spreading the right information about the novel coronavirus,” according to the Philippines’ Manila Bulletin.

Alas, Tencent, Baidu, TikTok and Weibo are all controlled by the CCP and help the government censor, publish and propagate misinformation orchestrated to preserve China’s Communist Party dictatorship. Infected by the CCP virus, the WHO has reinforced their authority and their disinformation.

Following his trip to China, the WHO director-general hailed “the advantage of the CCP system,” Xi Jinping’s leadership and China’s responses: “As I have said repeatedly since my return from Beijing, the Chinese government is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak, despite the severe social and economic impact those measures are having on the Chinese people.”

He went on to note that “the speed with which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome, and shared it with WHO and the world are very impressive, and beyond words. So is China’s commitment to transparency and to supporting other countries. In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response, and it’s not an exaggeration.”

“Commitment to transparency?” Nothing could be further from the truth: If Chinese citizens were not prevented by censorship from reading these fatuous words, they would either laugh or cry.

Infected by the CCP virus, Tedros has bought the notion that the “China model” is superior to liberal democracy in its capacity to respond to urgent challenges, an idea shared by Western media figures imagining the putative efficiency of totalitarianism to address problems like climate change.

But the centralized, top-down and PR-obsessed Chinese model has clearly thwarted the ability of societal institutions to help solve the coronavirus outbreak; Xi’s China has systematically gutted institutions like journalism, social media, nongovernmental organizations, the legal profession and others that might allow the Chinese people to deal with the virus and provide accountability.

And while Xi’s digital intelligence-gathering campaign has been working on assembling biometrics for the world population and data on the personal and social behavior of people in China, the data appears to have been little help in containing the pandemic. It has been gathered only for political control.

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Reflecting an apparent effort not to humiliate Xi and discredit the China model, Tedros repeatedly stressed that the WHO did not recommend, and indeed opposed, any restrictions on Chinese travel and trade. Others, ranging from North Korea to the United States, knew better, banning entry of Chinese and restricting travel of their own citizens.

The WHO has carried water for Beijing before, rejecting Taiwan’s bid for observer status, let alone full membership, since freedom-loving Tsai Ing-wen assumed the presidency in 2016. The unfairness of this exclusion is more pronounced amid the current health emergency.

The WHO is thus showing the unmistakable symptoms of the CCP virus and the source of the infection is plain for all to see. Ethiopia, the home of the WHO director-general, has accumulated loans from China totaling nearly $13 billion over the past 18 years. Like numerous poor countries around the world, Ethiopia has come under China’s dominion.

Using this coercive tactic, China has proven masterful in mobilizing international support for policies that egregiously violate international norms. When China’s human rights record was last reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, numerous small, poor nations, as well as many developed states, were silent as concentration camps for as many as three million Muslims were cynically described as vocational schools, and obediently applauded what the regime termed “human rights with Chinese characteristics.”

Indeed, the CCP virus has thoroughly invaded the UN system, far beyond the WHO. Four of the 15 specialized U.N. agencies are now headed by Chinese nationals. But we see no evidence that this has improved coordination of the international community’s response to the coronavirus, but serves an effort to expand China’s influence by “shaping the U.N.’s values, programs, and policy positions in ways that benefit Chinese priorities and ideology.”

Despite China’s ham-handed, bureaucratic and politicized response to the coronavirus, the pandemic will be over, sooner or later. The bans and restrictions will be lifted, and trade and other exchanges will return to what we consider normal. The bigger question is how far the CCP virus will spread; how much more damage it will cause; and how free societies can contain it as the CCP takes pains to advocate and establish its version of a community of common destiny for all mankind.

(This Op-Ed contains quotations from Chinese news sources that The Western Journal was not able to verify prior to publication. – Ed. note)

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Aaron Rhodes is president of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe and human rights editor of Dissident Magazine.