WHO’s Tedros looks like second term despite COVID-19 handling and proximity to China

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Ethiopian World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is set to serve a second term as chief executive following reports that no nation will challenge him despite his controversial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its close relationship with China.

Observers say that if the United States does not present a challenger, it has lost a major opportunity to exert influence over the important international body.

President Biden re-engaged with the WHO early in his presidency after the Trump administration announced it would end U.S. relations with the organization. At the time, Trump cited the WHO’s handling of the pandemic, its alleged pro-China bias, and its subsequent failure to pass reforms.

FILE - In this file photo from Monday, March 9, 2020, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, speaks at a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Swiss.  (Salvatore Di Nolfi / Keystone via AP, file)
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FILE – In this file photo from Monday, March 9, 2020, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, speaks at a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Swiss. (Salvatore Di Nolfi / Keystone via AP, file)
(PA)

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While the State Department would not confirm or deny whether the United States supported Tedros, Dr Anthony Fauci said when the administration joined the organization in January that Tedros was his “dear friend”. Tedros reportedly called Fauci “my brother Tony”.

Fox News has learned that 17 countries in the European Union, including France and Germany, recently appointed Tedros for a second term.

He was also reportedly supported by Kenya as his home country Ethiopia was unwilling to give him his blessing due to accusations he took sides with the government in power as the threat of civil war intensifies. Tedros, who is not a doctor, had previously been Ethiopia’s Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs.

A State Department spokesperson in an email to Fox News said that “the nomination period by member states ended on September 23. We look forward to receiving the formal notice from WHO after the last regional committee at the end of October. The administration is committed to strengthening and reforming the WHO to ensure it can fulfill its vital global mission of advancing global health and health security, including prevention and response to future emergencies. sanitary facilities. “

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The United States is the largest contributor to the WHO, spending around $ 2 billion over the past five years. The United States funds 22% of the organization’s budget, while China supports almost half of the bill.

Hugh Dugan, who was the senior director of international organizations affairs on the National Security Council during the Trump administration and briefed the Biden administration on the WHO during the transition, has expressed concern that necessary reforms will be scrapped.

“While remaining five years at the helm of the WHO, Tedros was supposed to do a White House grid on COVID-19. But Biden forgot to seize this opportunity to improve accountability and transparency regarding Wuhan,” Dugan said. Instead, he stamped Tedros as a slightly overdue library book. The status quo should have been a status no, and only the United States has the clout to call the guy from China. de Biden… continued to show little interest in creating leverage for the change needed at the helm of WHO. “

Craig Singleton, an adjunct researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News that the Biden administration missed an opportunity. “The failure of the Biden administration to nominate a qualified candidate stands in stark contrast to its stated desire to significantly reform the WHO and rehabilitate the global position of the beleaguered health agency.”

FILE - In this January 28, 2020 file photo, Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.  (Naohiko Hatta / Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE – In this January 28, 2020 file photo, Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Naohiko Hatta / Pool Photo via AP, File)

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Singleton continued, “It is now widely recognized in political and scientific circles that the WHO’s early findings regarding the origins of COVID-19 test credulity. In response to increasing public pressure, Tedros has been forced to acknowledge what was known since the start of the pandemic – China’s refusal to collaborate with the international community is the only thing preventing the world from truly finding out where and how this pandemic started. ”

Singleton, a former US official with expertise on China and international organizations, shared his concerns about the Chinese bias perceived by Tedros.

“There is no doubt that Tedros lacks credibility, not only because he allowed Beijing to undermine the investigation into the origins of COVID-19, but also because a number of serious scandals have arisen under his surveillance. ” he said. “These include reports of allegations of sexual assault involving WHO employees in his circle, as well as a recent audit which found that the WHO spent millions of donor dollars to procure faulty Chinese PPE at the height of the pandemic. ”

He noted that there is little evidence that “his affinity for China has waned since the start of the pandemic. This is not surprising given Tedros’ history of defending the interests of Beijing, first as Ethiopian Minister of Health and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs “.

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Singleton said a review of United Nations records found that Chinese aid contributions to Tedros’ native Ethiopia increased significantly when he was in leadership positions.

The same goes for China’s contributions to the WHO after Tedros was elected in 2017, preceded by intense Chinese lobbying on Tedros’ behalf, according to Singleton. Tedros’ Chinese ties also include ties to Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, who is a WHO Goodwill Ambassador.

A diplomat with knowledge of the inner workings of the organization who asked to remain anonymous told Fox that the WHO was deeply troubled under Tedros.

The diplomat observed that the WHO was “entirely focused on promoting his personal political agenda. He is not a scientist and his reign is authoritarian and patriarchal. With repeated misadventures over scientific guidance … WHO has lost. all credibility “.

A WHO spokesperson did not confirm whether Tedros was the only candidate and did not respond to follow-up questions regarding Tedros’ criticisms.

Earlier this year, Tedros declined to know if he was running for a second term, saying he was focused on fighting the pandemic.

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Hugh Dugan, who advised 11 US ambassadors to the UN. said Tedros must openly encourage Taiwan’s membership in the WHO, a move that would help show the world that China does not control the organization.

“The quickest path to WHO rehabilitation would be for Tedros and the responsible states to invite Taiwanese to become members of the organization. This would have dispelled the existence of Chinese control of Tedros’ front office,” Dugan said. .

The full roster of CEO candidates is expected to be unveiled in late October, and while Tedros has not publicly said he is running, his second term looks almost certain.

Adam Shaw of Fox News and Associated Press contributed to this article.

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