A Letter to President Trump
Dear Mr Trump,
All of the below can be true:
1) The Chinese Communist Party concealed information about the severity and contagiousness of the coronavirus, contributing to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
2) The WHO, afraid of losing funding, cooperation, and health data and potential treatments from China, abetted the CCP in its cover up, contributing to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
3) Your decision to withdraw funding from the WHO (which, in fairness, has been effective in dispensing assistance across the world since it belatedly declared a global pandemic) will prevent people - predominantly in the developing world - from getting access to the medical care they will desperately need to survive. Millions may die as a result of your typically short-sighted, blame-deflecting announcement yesterday.
There will come a time when China must be made answerable for: a) its failure to crack down on illegal animal markets; b) its concealment of the full scale of the outbreak. There will also come a time for the free world to review the role of multilateral organisations like the WHO and develop mechanisms of holding them to account when they come under pressure from powerful nations that don't value accountability or transparency.
But, Mr Trump, that time is absolutely not now, as the world finds itself in the middle of its struggle to overcome this uncompromising foe. The coronavirus still hasn't ravaged Africa yet and, when it does, countries that barely have health systems to be overwhelmed will need field hospitals, testing kits, PPE, and other basic hygiene materials. You may say that the wellbeing of the developing world does not feature on your re-election ‘to do’ list, however, reimported cases from under-resourced countries - an inevitability if the virus isn’t tackled - will only undermine strides towards recovery that the developed world makes.
Finally, your decision represents a get-out-of-jail-free card for your embattled adversary, Mr Xi. China was positioning itself as the up-and-coming leader in world affairs before its image was tattered by allowing the coronavirus to spread to all corners of the globe. Its donations of faulty medical supplies and its spreading of disinformation over the origins of the virus have been seen for what they are - desperate attempts to repair the country’s deteriorating image.
Thanks to you, China can now project itself as the world’s saviour without spreading fringe theories or biting back at criticism of its autocratic system of governance. Allies of America's, Mr Trump, will have nowhere else to turn but China as they stare public health and economic catastrophe in the face. If you were to be re-elected in November, you will need all the help you can get to stand toe-to-toe with China on the world stage and to take on the international bodies that have bent over backwards for Mr Xi.
Not your finest hour, Mr Trump, whichever way you look at it.
Yours in earnest,
The China Insider