Now not the time to reward WHO, China

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping from Sept. 2016 summit.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s pledge of $850 million to the World Health Organization’s efforts to find a vaccine and treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic that currently has the world in its grip is dripping in sanctimony.

The pledge comes at a time when the United States and other countries are questioning the actions of not only China but the WHO itself in the spread of the disease which has claimed the lives of a quarter of a million people worldwide and cost the global economy trillions of dollars.

As it is, China’s campaign of disinformation in the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak has been well established. Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knew what they were dealing with and withheld that information from the rest of the world for weeks.

That was in violation of rules and regulations set up in the wake of the previous SARS pandemic in 2003 which required the immediate reporting of any evidence of a threat to public health.

Had China done so, the spread of the virus would have been contained by more than 90 per cent and the world would have been spared the worst of the effects of the pandemic.

But the WHO is not blameless in the ease with which the deadly virus spread. The organization, which is charged with safeguarding world health, ignored some its own rules to investigate any unofficial reports of SARS cases it receives.

Specifically, the WHO chose to ignore the information Taiwan sought to share with the organization in late December that would have and should have raised alarm bells and triggered actions to halt the spread before it became a pandemic.

It was for that reason that President Donald Trump announced a 60-day freeze on hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the WHO while the administration reviewed the organization’s role in mismanaging the coronavirus crisis.

Canadian officials, however, had been loathe to criticize both the WHO and China’s role in the spread of the virus. The government has argued that the virus is a global problem requiring a global solution.

The pandemic, to be sure, is a global problem, but whether the WHO is up to the task given its reluctance of acknowledge its own failings and those of the CCP remains to be seen.

Trudeau’s position is deeply disturbing. China has been attempting to shift blame for the pandemic from itself to the West, arguing that the efforts it took to contain the virus were Herculean in nature and should have bought time for the rest of the world to respond adequately. By failing to challenge that assertion and to now pledge close to $1 billion in support of WHO, the prime minister provides yet more fodder for Beijing’s propaganda mill.

China needs to be held accountable for its role in the spread of the virus. Had it closed international travel from Wuhan at the same time it had imposed an internal ban much suffering would have been avoided.

The CCP will not change its ways until the West gives up appeasement and begins demanding China conform to international rules, regulation and upholds the values we hold dear.

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