During his first days in office, President Biden made a terrible decision off the top: Undoing the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
Now Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, will head the United States’ delegation to the agency’s executive board. On Thursday, Fauci said the Biden administration will not only resume “regular engagement” with the WHO, but the U.S. will also “fulfill its financial obligations to the organization.”
As for Biden himself, he claimed that “the WHO plays a crucial role in the world’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic as well as countless other threats to global health and health security.”
And that’s true, the WHO did play a “crucial role,” except that it was to pander to the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, rather than trying to help thwart a global pandemic. Does the Biden administration actually think President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the United Nations agency—as he did in July—for the sport of it?
Instead of honoring its vision “of a world in which all peoples attain the highest possible level of health” and upholding its mission “to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable,” the WHO actively helped the CCP cover up the origins of the deadly virus.
Even the New York Times admitted as much in a November report, which covered internal documents and interviews with more than 50 officials and scientists. The Times’ investigative piece kicked off this way: “As it praised Beijing, the World Health Organization concealed concessions to China and may have sacrificed the best chance to unravel the virus’s origins.”
It went on: “Nine months and more than 1.1 million deaths [at the time of the November report] later, there is still no transparent, independent investigation into the source of the virus. Notoriously allergic to outside scrutiny, China has impeded the effort, while leaders of the World Health Organization, if privately frustrated, have largely ceded control, even as the Trump administration fumed.”
In the first week of January, a team of scientists and investigators representing the WHO—preapproved by the Chinese government—were set to arrive in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, to look into the virus’s origins. At the last minute, the investigators were denied entry, but Beijing ultimately relented and the team was allowed to enter the country the second week of January.
Let’s not get too hopeful about the CCP actually letting them get to the root of anything. Anyway, because the WHO has spent so much time during this crisis placating Beijing, a dark cloud will hang over whatever it is they may find. The question will always loom: Can the investigators be trusted, or are they yet again doing the CCP’s bidding?
As the Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 15, the WHO team “plans to build on reports by Chinese scientists rather than mount an independent investigation. Given that Chinese authorities have been slow to release information, penalized scientists and doctors who shared clinical and genomic details of the novel coronavirus, and have since demonstrated a keen interest in controlling the narrative of how the virus emerged, this is not a promising foundation for WHO’s investigation.”
The bottom line here is that the WHO’s mishandling of the pandemic needs to be addressed full-on before it can do any more damage. Independent Women’s Forum foreign policy fellow, Claudia Rosett, had the right prescription for Biden before he even took office, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
“The US should require the WHO to meet two conditions before resuming the lavish flow of funds, expertise and credibility that US 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 cover-ups 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.”
Indeed, Taiwanese experts warned in December 2019 that the virus spread rapidly from human-to-human, but the WHO ignored Taipei because Beijing refuses to recognize the island’s democratic government.
By rejoining the WHO, President Biden is rewarding wretched behavior. He’d do well to remember, however, that actions have consequences, especially when it comes to an agency more concerned with protecting Communist China than protecting the health of the world’s inhabitants.