Chinese dictator Xi Jinping announced during a speech to the World Health Assembly on Monday that China would partner with the United Nations to build a public health “global humanitarian response hub” in China to control future pandemic responses.
Xi, whose nation systematically prevented awareness of contagious disease control in the early days of the pandemic, also said Beijing would invest $2 billion in Chinese coronavirus response in the next two years and offer the world free access to a Chinese-made anti-coronavirus vaccine once it is developed.
Xi was one of the first world leaders to address the World Health Assembly on Monday, following only one other, Swiss Confederation President Simonetta Sommaruga. Switzerland is home to the World Health Organization’s (W.H.O.) headquarters.
The World Health Assembly is an annual meeting of public health officials to discuss the most pressing health issues in the world currently. This year, the event is being held virtually as a result of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, exacerbated by mismanagement and secrecy on the part of Xi’s Communist Party.
As in every year since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected, the W.H.O. refused to allow the nation of Taiwan to participate, at China’s behest. Taiwan has implemented one of the world’s most successful coronavirus responses, recently passing one month since the last confirmed domestically transmitted case. While participants at the assembly will not hear the details of Taiwan’s expertise, the venue offered Xi top billing to falsely claim China had successfully contained the virus, despite accelerating rates of infection in both northern China and central Wuhan, the origin city of the virus.
“In China, after making painstaking efforts and enormous sacrifice, we have turned the tide on the virus and protected the life and health of our people,” Xi said in his World Health Assembly speech on Monday. “All along, we have acted with openness, transparency, and responsibility. We have provided information to the W.H.O. and the relevant countries in the most timely fashion. … We have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need.”
Xi did not mention his officials finally admitting this weekend that Wuhan scientists destroyed early samples of the coronavirus, making tracking its early evolution impossible. The authoritarian leader also omitted any explanation for reports suggesting that he pressured the head of the W.H.O., Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, not to disclose evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
Instead, Xi focused heavily on concrete actions China will take in the immediate future to become more influential in global public health activities. Among those moves will be investing $2 billion over two years on coronavirus research and medical response.
China will work with the U.N. to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China to ensure the operation of anti-epidemic supply chains,” Xi added, without elaborating. “Global industrial and supply chains must remain stable and unclogged if we are to restore growth to the economy of the world.”
In other remarks, Xi and Communist Party officials have emphasized the importance of the world remaining dependent on China for nearly all basic medical supplies and other economic needs. In March, Xi announced plans to expand China’s pharmaceutical monopoly by working “to increase its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, daily necessities, and anti-epidemic and other supplies to the international market.”
Xi also implied that China would be the first nation to develop a successful vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus and that it would offer access to the vaccine for free.
“Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good,” Xi promised. “This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.”
Leaked FBI intelligence published in American media last week indicated that Chinese intelligence agents and hackers are working to steal “from American institutions intellectual property and health information related to coronavirus vaccines and treatment through hacking and other illicit means and may come within days,” according to the Wall Street Journal. China’s Communist Party has a long history of using hacking and espionage to steal American trade secrets.
In his World Health Assembly speech, Xi also focused heavily on damage control regarding China’s image in Africa. Several large African nations have objected to China after video evidence of widespread racism against black people in Guangzhou, southern China, surfaced. After Xi’s government began falsely telling citizens the main coronavirus threat came from foreigners, Guangzhou restaurants began banning people with dark skin, landlords began evicting black tenants, and local police imposing house arrest restrictions on black residents under the guise of “quarantine.”
“China will establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and expedite the building up of the Africa CDC headquarters,” Xi promised on Monday.
Xi also announced he supported an investigation into the initial response to the discovery of the virus in Wuhan, but only by his allies in the W.H.O, “conducted in an objective and international manner.” He also demanded the world praise the W.H.O. despite multiple documented failures in responding to the pandemic:
The World Health Organization should lead the global response. Under the leadership of Dr. Tedros [Tedros is not a medical doctor], the W.H.O. has made a major contribution in leading and advancing a global response to Covid-19 [the Chinese coronavirus]. Its good work is applauded by the international community.
At this critical juncture, to support W.H.O. is to support international cooperation and the battle for saving lives as well. China calls on the international community to increase political and financial support to W.H.O. so as to mobilize resources worldwide to defeat the virus.
Xi did not state that China, which donates about a tenth of the funding to the agency that the United States does, would increase its financial support to the W.H.O.