Trump plans to permanently freeze WHO funding has raised high alarm in the COVID-19 saga. As the biggest donator, it will have huge financial gaps to cover by World Health Organizations. Many global leaders have criticized Trump’s move. Bill gates, the world-renowned figure has said in his twitter that halting WHO funding is dangerous as it sounds. It will only make things worse as COVID-19 has brought devastating impact to the world economy and countries still striving to revitalize.
It doesn’t seem that COVID-19 is under Trump’s head. As he constantly criticizes the WHO effort, one thing he always did is to link his critic to China. On April 7th, Trump criticized WHO by saying that the organization is china-centric. The statement seems really awkward. Why did he say that WHO funded largely by the US? There are several WHO donors who contribute significant such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (12,12%), Gavi Alliance (8,18%), UK (7,91%), Japan (2,59%), and Germany (5,33%). I agree that the US is the biggest donor, yet WHO is not belong to anyone. WHO is belong to the world and have the vision to promote global health and also trying to cure infectious disease.
The fact has shown that China is the first country that suffers from COVID-19. Its origins belong there in the Huinan market. That’s the reason why WHO is continuously cooperating with China. China is also shown a great degree of collaboration. They opened the information about genetics sequence and many more. It doesn’t have to do with China-centric, yet it has to do with Trump’s political agenda with China.
Regarding China, in 2017, US defense policy has clearly stated that China is one of the main enemies of the US. Rising power from Asia has threatened the US global position with its tremendous economic power. In 2014, China’s PPP has overlapped the US in the first place. The reason that China overlapped them has to do with their comparative advantage of one billion populations. China is also expanding its influence in many countries with his Belt and Road Initiatives.
The fact that justifies what Trump trying to do to China. It wants to delegitimize them. On April 30th, cited from Reuters, Trump blamed them for lack of ability to contain the virus. He said that “It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” Trump wants to lead opinion that blames China for the global pandemic that occurs today. However, it doesn’t have any impact on other’s behaviors so Trump changes his approach by freeze WHO funding who’s accused by him as china-centric.
In his letter addressed directly to Tedros, citing NBC News, Trump has said: “It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,”. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.” What independence from China if WHO just try to work together with China? He only makes false reasoning to justify his action. It is shown that in this pandemic, Trump only cares about how to delegitimize China’s position in international politics. China is one of the most fearful enemies that have to be taken down by any means necessary.
To Trump, don’t turn COVID-19 into political games as coronavirus death cases still growing. The only focus now is to save humanity from this pandemic. Our civilization has many experiences with this kind of pandemic; from Spanish Flu, Ebola, Influenza, measles in the 14th century. As a global power, the US supposed to lead the world to get out of this crisis. I agree with Bill that the world is waiting for the US to lead the charge.
However, Trump doesn’t aware of how important the US position and its policy in the midst of the pandemic. He is busy to delegitimize its arch enemy. Also, Trump’s strategy to delegitimize China is counter-productive because it only bounce-back to him with his lack of leadership skills for handling crises. The US now has most active-cases around the world with over one million cases, when China, on the other hand, not reaching a hundred thousand.
If Trump wants to delegitimize China, one thing they need to do is become the first country to produce a reliable COVID-19 vaccine. The world right now is having a race which side produces good vaccines that affordable for global people. According to the Gavi Alliance, China is leading vaccine production while they entering phase-two vaccine developments. Meanwhile, the US is still in phase-one. In other words, while the US busy to criticize China, they are still lacking behind in the production race.
Vaccine production race is important because it will project international politics in the time it comes. The Health System and technologies will become one of the power indicators in the geopolitics perspective. Once one country is successful in producing the vaccine, it will gain international recognition which elevates his position in international politics. China is aiming to become the first country which success to make vaccine globally affordable.
Also, US behavior to WHO is like leaving the open positions for China to take the mantle in global politics, at least in health issues. Crises nowadays need a leader. Although China’s contribution to WHO pales in comparison to the US, politically speaking, with the current condition, China will be up to the task to lead the world to exit this pandemic. They will look up to China if the US still behaves like that!