In a world where we anticipate our leaders pointing the finger at someone else, it’s difficult to tell when an accusation of fault is justified. Both the Chinese government and the Trump administration have been levying criticism towards each other’s countries over which is truly responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, Trump brought in the WHO, declaring that the USA would freeze funding to the organization, pending an investigation.
While our first instinct is to blame the other side when possible, I think it’s very fair to say that all three deserve significant criticism for our current situation.
Let’s start with the Chinese government, which deserves the most blame. The wet market of China, where animals are freshly slaughtered, as opposed to freezing, allowed coronavirus to happen. Once it was discovered in early December, the Chinese government only reported it to the WHO on December 31, 2019. They lied, saying that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission,” relaying that it was only spreading from animals to humans.
Chinese officials ordered doctors to halt all tests and destroy samples, as well as attempt to prevent the media from covering it. One individual, Dr. Li Wenliang, was arrested after alerting the public to the disease and later died of COVID-19. By all accounts, the Chinese government is responsible for failing to contain coronavirus.
Whatsmore, the Chinese government has been sending out propaganda to state that the United States is responsible for the virus. It is a conspiracy theory without any evidence, which proves the corruptness of the Chinese government and their inability to care about the rest of the world’s safety. For this reason, it is actually reasonable for the United States to fight back these accusations.
However, President Trump’s own handling of the pandemic does not escape the need for criticism. Despite being warned in January that this could become a pandemic, Trump continued to dismiss the severity of the virus. He called the concern a “new hoax” by the Democrats and stated that the virus would simply go away. The United States did not have, nor did it prioritize getting, the testing kits needed to quickly diagnose people. Earlier in his presidency, Donald Trump failed to replace the head of the pandemic response team, leaving us even more unprepared.
Therefore, Donald Trump is responsible for the level to which coronavirus has affected the lives of American citizens. We could have been a South Korea, which has seen a far slower spread and death rate, but instead ended up like Italy. Trump has said he takes “zero responsibility” for this outbreak, but that is simply false. And, while he is correct to criticize China, it is clear that he is also trying to redirect the blame that’s been thrown at him.
The president has even resorted to calling the virus the “Chinese Virus,” in order to redirect anger away from himself. Yes, the Chinese government is primarily responsible for this global catastrophe, but this line of rebuke stokes racial tensions within our own country. Asian-Americans have already reported a sharp increase in the racism they face every day and the president should not be adding fuel to the fire by giving the virus a race. He can criticize the government of China, while also making sure ordinary citizens are not victims of our anger and fear.
The finger has recently shifted to the WHO for mistakes they made. For weeks, they not only took China at their word when they were sharing misinformation, but they also spread this false propaganda themselves. The leader of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, went so far as to state “”we appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated.”
This could not have been further from the truth. Tedros has also been accused of covering up cholera epidemics before in his home country of Ethiopia, when he was the Health Minister there. All of this suggests that the investigation Trump is calling for is totally warranted. If the WHO is under any inclination to appease China or is failing to adequately report on imminent health risks, there does need to be a review.
But, like much of his actions, Trump has gone too far. He has announced the defunding of the WHO, during a pandemic. The criticisms are valid, but defunding an organization that is playing a large role in combating the current battle against coronavirus is incredibly short-sighted and petty. Decisions like this lessen the credibility of those who have serious complaints against the WHO and only politicizes the matter more.
In fact, Trump himself praised China for their transparency for their handling of the coronavirus. On January 22nd, Trump tweeted “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!” It is incredibly hypocritical for him to say the WHO acted inappropriately, when he said the exact same thing.
All three of these entities share responsibility for our current predicament. You will, undoubtedly, not see any single news organization adequately assign the appropriate amount of blame to all of these culprits. If you watch the conservative media, it will be all China, with a new shift towards the WHO as a corrupt, useless organization we shouldn’t be giving any more money to. If it’s liberal media, it will be all about Trump, with a lack of information on the malpractices of China and the WHO.
We, as a people, should be capable of acknowledging all who are at fault, regardless of political leanings or who we want to win in November.