Australia Stayed Ahead of Pandemic by Ignoring ‘Politicised’ WHO on China Travel Ban

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

Members of Australia’s governing coalition have given tacit backing to U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to defund the World Health Organization (WHO), saying their country’s own situation would be a lot worse if they had not ignored the “politicised” UN agency’s advice to allow travel from China in the pandemic’s early stages.

Australia, like the United States, moved relatively quickly to ban travel from China — despite its heavy dependence on trade with the communist dictatorship — regardless of WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu claiming such bans would “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” and should not be implemented.

“The WHO has been glacially slow in its decision-making,” said Andrew Hastie, a veteran of the Special Air Service (SAS) and a member of Australia’s federal parliament for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party — roughly analogous to the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or the Republican Party in the United States, despite the name — in comments to the Australian edition of the Daily Mail.

“When Beijing shut down travel from Hubei to the rest of China on January 23 — but strangely not from Hubei to the rest of the world — why didn’t the WHO act decisively then?” he asked.

“It could’ve prevented the mass global exportation of Covid-19 then by declaring a pandemic and alerting governments around the world of the danger ahead. Closing borders then could’ve saved lives and a lot of economic hardship,” he suggested.

Parliamentary colleague Dave Sharma echoed his sentiments in comments to the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), modelled after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Australia’s mother country.

“I think the WHO’s revealed some serious shortcomings, and I think they’ve revealed themselves to be a politicised organisation. They have been too willing to accept Chinese explanations for this virus and the source and the causes,” he said.

The UN agency does appear to have been, as U.S. President Donald Trump put it, “China-centric” throughout the pandemic, despite the United States having provided more of its funding.

In mid-February, for example, Shashank Joshi of the left-liberal Economist reported with apparent disapproval how WHO officials were “absolutely gush[ing]” over the communist dictatorship’s coronavirus response, saying: “The people of China feel protected … the ultimate social contract… We all need to take a step back and admire what’s happened.”
More recently, a senior WHO adviser appeared to pretend not to hear a question a Hong Kong-based reported put him in on the subject of Taiwan — which China’s communist regime claims as part of its territory, despite never having governed it — and then hang up on her when she repeated it.

After calling him back to ask about Taiwan’s coronavirus response for a third time, the WHO adviser insisted he had “already talked about China”, as though the Chinese regime’s pretence of ruling the island nation was true in reality and not just a paper claim.

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