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US exit from WHO: Good for US govt, bad for US people

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-08 14:23
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File photo: WHO headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland. [Photo/Agencies]

Although US politicians have long been talking about it, the news about US starting its formal exit from the World Health Organization, which comes on Monday in the US, is still shocking.

It is shocking because we cannot believe that the US dare really do it. Exit from WHO will do great damage to US interests.

First, people in the US will suffer from the exit. The WHO is a platform for all members to share information and experiences, as well as an essential coordinator and promoter of COVID-19 vaccines. A US outside the organization won't be able to get any information or participate in the coordinated research.

By the end of June, WHO reported that 15 vaccines have entered clinical trials. If one of these vaccines developed by researchers outside the US can be injected soon, people in the US people may face complicated procedures in applying to receive an injection.

US national interests suffer, too. The WHO, founded under the initiative of the United Nations, is part of the post-war world arrangement. In one sense, the WHO, together with other intergovernmental organizations, helped the US exert global influence.

Now the US has given up this tool and its global influence in the health sector will decline. Of course the US can form another organization and attract new members, but for that it will have to pay with political resources and coordinate interests — a rather costly move.

Most interestingly, and Taiwan will feel embarrassed from this move of the US, too, because it has always been trying to enter the WHO with help from the US. Now what should it do? Shall it continue these efforts, or shall it follow the country that its current leaders assume as their backstage boss?

Contrary to their people and their own national interests, the US government will benefit from their WHO exit.In some sense, it will be the only side that benefits.

Facing heavy criticism from both within and abroad, they need to shift their blame to someone else. Their past scapegoat was China as they spread rumors about lab leaks or China failing in its duty, but all those rumors quickly went bankrupt.

Now they have selected the WHO as their latest scapegoat. It can be expected that they will attack the WHO heavily in the coming days to shift pressure.

The problem is, their strategy is not sustainable. They have already used up their stockpile of scapegoats but the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue rising in the US. Where can they pass the buck in the future if criticisms continue rising together with COVID-19 infections?

No one knows.

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