While many have noted World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ effort to deflect criticism of his organization’s response to the Chinese coronavirus by playing the race card, far more revealing was whom he played it against. Under fire for his bias toward communist China, the Beijing-backed director-general, known simply as Tedros, sought to defend himself by slandering Taiwan, the thorn in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) side.
During an April 8 WHO press conference, Tedros unleashed a seemingly unprovoked tirade at Taiwan. He claimed its people were leveling racist attacks at him, apparently with tacit governmental support. Taiwan’s foreign ministry unequivocally denies this charge. Tedros stated:
[S]ince I don’t have any inferiority complex when I am personally affected or attacked by racial slurs, I don’t care because I am a very proud black person or Negro. I don’t care being called even Negro. I am. That’s what came from some quarters and if you want me to be specific, three months ago this attack came from Taiwan. We need to be honest. I will be straight today, from Taiwan and Taiwan the foreign Ministry they know the campaign they didn’t dissociate themselves. They even started criticizing me in the middle of all that insult and slur but I didn’t care.
In response to Tedros’ remarks, I asked the WHO:
- Can you provide any specific examples of the “attacks” to which the director-general was referring?
- Can you point to evidence suggesting the attacks came from Taiwan, and clarify whether the director-general was saying that private citizens from Taiwan were engaging in such attacks, or rather that its government was doing so?
- Can you point to evidence regarding the assertion that Taiwan’s foreign ministry was aware of this “campaign,” and “didn’t dissociate” itself?
As of this writing, the WHO has not responded to these inquiries.
The remarks came amid a public appearance in which Tedros was responding to criticism from President Donald Trump about WHO’s “China-centric” nature and threats by the Trump administration to cut the United States’ disproportionate WHO funding.
Beijing certainly would have approved of Tedros’ decision to lash out at Taiwan. After all, while democratic Taiwan has handled the coronavirus crisis with as much success as any other place in the world, further strengthening its symbol of what a free and democratic China could look like, the CCP has successfully pressured the WHO not to recognize it.
This includes the WHO’s decisions to exclude Taiwan from its World Health Assembly for the last three years, and to bar Taiwan from an emergency WHO conference on the coronavirus in January — attendance which, in retrospect, might have benefited the world tremendously given Taiwan’s handling of the crisis.
Additionally, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims it warned the WHO about potential human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus on Dec. 31, something China disputed until several weeks later. The WHO instead promoted China’s view, which proved deadly.
This was the context for the infamous video in which Dr. Bruce Aylward, the leader of the WHO’s joint international mission to China regarding coronavirus in February 2020, refused to address questions about Taiwan and its response to the crisis. Aylward has repeatedly praised China lavishly for its response to the Wuhan virus. It seems the WHO will recognize Taiwan only in the course of slandering it.
Ironically, during the press conference in which Tedros bashed Taiwan, he also urged “global solidarity” and called for the world to “quarantine politicizing COVID.” He then called for “honest leadership from the United States and China,” implying an equivalence in the two countries’ responses to the virus the CCP is uniquely responsible for unleashing on the world. His pro-China orientation is evident.
It should come as no surprise that in the days following Tedros’ remarks, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended him. State-backed media recirculated the pro-Tedros narrative. Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia reports that investigators from Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice said they had “uncovered an effort by Chinese netizens to exploit the controversy by falsely identifying themselves as Taiwanese and issuing apologies to Tedros online.”
His effort to deflect criticism by invoking race parallels China’s attempt to de-link itself from the coronavirus by claiming that calling the Wuhan virus by its name is racist, which sadly far too many in the West have bought into, to devastating effect.
Meanwhile, the CCP disingenuously defends Tedros against unsubstantiated allegations of racist attacks while engaging in rampant discrimination against millions on the basis of their ethnicity, religion, and political views. Now, it is coming under fire from African leaders for alleged racism in “singling out of Africans for compulsory [coronavirus] testing and quarantine” at home.
Every aspect of the Tedros-Taiwan contretemps justifies criticizing the director-general, the WHO he leads, and the CCP.