WHO Officials Reject Trump’s ‘China-Centric’ Claim
Senior Officials leading the World Health Organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic responded Wednesday to President Donald Trump, who threatened Tuesday to pause funding to the organization claiming it’s “China-centric.”
“We are still in the acute phase of a pandemic so now is not the time to cut back on funding,” Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Europe’s Regional Director told reporters Wednesday.
During Tuesday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Trump criticized the WHO for not warning the world about the virus early on saying they “could have called it months earlier.” Notably, Trump instituted a travel ban on China on January 31, which the WHO called unnecessary.
The U.S. is the number one contributor to the WHO. In fact, the U.S. provided nearly 15 percent of the WHO’s budget between 2018 and 2019.
“It was absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible, to get on the ground and work with the Chinese to understand this.” Dr Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor to the Director General, said during the Wednesday meeting, “This is what we did with every other hard-hit country like Spain and had nothing to do with China specifically.”
Dr. Aylward led the WHO trip to China in February and commended the country’s “very hard” work in containing the virus, according to Reuters.
“China worked very, hard very early on, once it understood what it was dealing with, to try and identify and detect all potential cases to make sure that they got tested to trace all the close contacts and make sure they were quarantined so they actually knew where the virus was, where the risk was,” Aylward said.
He continued, “Then they made it very clear that these people would not and could not travel within the country, let alone internationally.”
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China Circles the Wagons Around TikTok
In follow up to the recent Congressional hearing on TikTok, Chinese state-run media was swift to condemn any scrutiny of the platform. China is claiming through its state-run media that criticism of TikTok is rooted in anti-China prejudice, that TikTok is harmless and not different from any other social media platform, and that it is the US, not China, that is the bad actor.
CCP Claims Scrutiny of TikTok Based on Prejudice Against China
According to China’s state-run media, the US is attacking TikTok out of racial and political prejudice towards China. Criticisms of TikTok based on security concerns amount to “casual, racially-charged slander” and a “Sinophobic witch-hunt,” according to Global Times. That same article claimed that TikTok “has a large target on its back simply because it is Chinese-owned.” Another Global Times article portrayed the Congressional hearing on TikTok as “xenophobic political grandstanding.”
And Chinese media used statements from Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) to launder its claim that concerns about TikTok stem from racism. China Daily quoted Bowman as saying: “…Let’s not be racist toward China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok because American companies have done tremendous harm to American people.”
Another Global Times article portrayed the hearing as an “anti-Communist witch hunt,” while the same article claimed that “[t]he ghost of McCarthyism is haunting the US again.” Another Global Times article featured a political cartoon with a similar caption: “Ghost of McCarthyism haunts TikTok Hearing.”
CCP Claims that TikTok is an Innovator, and Not Different from Other Social Media
TikTok is a strong innovator not worthy of scrutiny, according to Chinese state-run media. TikTok is “an innovative app that has enriched the digital life of American people and benefited a lot of micro businesses in the US,” according to Global Times. TikTok “…is a global high-tech company representing openness, innovation, and vitality…,” according to another Global Times article. It is “a leader in digital technology and advanced algorithms” and “a competition for technology and competition for markets,” according to a third Global Times piece. It is “a massively successful business,” according to yet another Global Times article.
CCP media also claims that TikTok doesn’t pose any threat different from other social media. One Global Times article laments that there is a “plethora of international experts highlighting the massive hypocrisy that non-Chinese apps such as Facebook and Google harvest much more data than their Beijing-based rival,” and that there is “nothing to prove [TikTok] is a greater risk than any other social media.” TikTok’s CEO testified that “We are committed to be very transparent with our users about what we collect,” and that “I don’t believe what we collect is more than most players in the industry,” according to another Global Times article.
CCP Claims that Focus on TikTok Reveals US (not China) is Bad Actor
Chinese state-run media also tries to capitalize on the attention on TikTok to issue propaganda criticizing the US. The “witch-hunting against TikTok” show that the “US’ technological innovation is going downhill and the political farce against a tiny app has seriously shattered the US values of fair competition and its credibility,” states Global Times.
And the CCP media accuses the US of doing what China has doing for years: intellectual property theft. According to China Daily, the Congressional hearing “is just the latest attempt by the US to steal the company.” The “US has turned from a cradle of innovation into a robber,” according to another Global Times article.
China’s state-run media is once again trying to deflect and redirect attention away from China’s malevolent actions. With TikTok, China alleges that viewing TikTok in a critical light is racist, that TikTok is an innovative application worthy of praise, and that any criticism of TikTok reviews flaws with the US, not China. Given the platform’s increased popularity in the United States, it unfortunately appears that these CCP talking points are convincing a significant segment of the American population.
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