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US credibility weakened after stigmatisation of WHO shunned by international community: experts

By Chi Zao (People's Daily Online)    08:34, May 27, 2020

After railing against the World Health Organisation (WHO) for weeks as the COVID-19 death toll at home skyrocketed past 90,000, scandalously failing to handle its public health crisis and attempting to deflect its own responsibility, the US has now been shunned by the international community. Experts noted that such irresponsible actions in the middle of a humanitarian crisis will severely damage the US’ image and cause friction among its allies.

At the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting held on May 20, a resolution on evaluating the WHO’s pandemic response, which was in line with the consistent position of the Chinese side, was agreed by all member states. Ignoring US demands for an overhaul, countries including Germany and France expressed their strong support for global cooperation in fighting the virus, notably through the WHO.

The resolution largely ignored US President Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from the WHO, and did not provide a specific direction for the investigation of central US allegations against the WHO: that the global organisation was China’s pawn and that the virus was created in a Chinese lab.

“The WHO’s importance is undeniable amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is the only organisation that can direct global efforts to tackle the lethal virus. The US’ stigmatisation of the WHO amid a humanitarian crisis has surely dealt its global image a heavy blow,” said Sun Chenghao, an assistant research professor at the Institute of American Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Carl Bildt, a columnist for the Washington Post, pointed out in his article on May 20 that the US’ accusation only fuelled the impression that the United States was far more interested in fighting China than fighting the virus.

“The US sees China as its rival in pandemic control. The WHO’s support for China’s control measures has irritated the US, which believed that as the organisation’s top financial supporter, the WHO should back the US despite its failure in curbing the spread of the virus,” said Sun.

“When its demand was not met, the US sought ways to stigmatise the WHO,” added Sun.

The White House’s shifting of blame to the WHO and China appeared to be an unsuccessful, even self-destructive effort. In President Trump’s lengthy letter to the WHO, medical professionals saw a number of falsehoods and misleading statements, one of which was that the “WHO consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal.” The Lancet pointed out that it published no reports in December 2019 referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or "anywhere else in China.”

Bildt noted that the US, which was shunned by international community at the meeting, has shown that “here, the post-American world was on full display as it has seldom been seen before.”

“Ever since Trump became US president, the international community has been sceptical about its ‘US first’ approach. The pandemic has made the US self-interest diplomatic strategy even more prominent, causing opposition from even its allies, especially European countries, which are strong supporters of multilateralism,” said Sun.

“Needless to say, the US’ soft power and its credibility will be severely weakened after the pandemic, and its relations with allies will also be heavily affected,” Sun added. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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