Joe Biden says he’ll take the U.S. back into the World Health Organization on his first day in office, reversing the withdrawal President Trump began in July. That would be a mistake. The coronavirus pandemic revealed the WHO as an agency ruinously in thrall to China. Rushing back in would reinforce this problem, not solve it.
The U.S. should require the WHO to meet two conditions before resuming the lavish flow of funds, expertise and credibility that U.S. membership has long conferred. First, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s China-pandering chief, needs to resign. His five-year term expires in mid-2022 but he needs to go sooner. His deference to China’s Communist Party, at the expense of world health, has produced the WHO’s most catastrophic failure since its founding in 1948.
Second, the WHO should invite Taiwan to its proceedings, despite Beijing’s objections. Unlike Communist China, with its coverups and totalitarian lockdowns, Taiwan has done an exemplary job of combining the rights of a free society with the rigors of disease control. While Taiwan might have little to learn from the WHO, it has plenty to offer.
These measures may sound like a tall order, but it’s clear that big changes are needed at the WHO. Most of all, the WHO needs a director-general more devoted to health and less devoted to Beijing. Mr. Tedros isn’t a medical doctor but a politician with a Ph.D. in community health. He was health minister and then foreign minister of a notoriously repressive regime in Ethiopia, where Beijing has been a major investor for years.
Whatever the reasons for Mr. Tedros’s romance with China’s commissars, we know the results. The WHO’s binge of lying for China began with its statements last winter implying that Beijing on Dec. 31 had diligently notified the WHO of the Wuhan outbreak. As it later turned out, China had sent no such notice and was trying to hide the outbreak by silencing Wuhan’s doctors. The WHO learned of the new disease from such sources as a medical website based in the U.S. and an email from Taiwan, where authorities were worried about the SARS-like potential for contagion—a message the WHO quietly sidelined.