Step Aside Washington: Ex-US Envoy Says ‘China Filling the Void’ in Global Response to COVID-19


On Tuesday, Donald Trump announced that the US will sending funds the World Health Organisation (WHO) while a review is conducted to cover the WHO’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus”.

Speaking to Business Insider, former US officials who served under three different administrations slammed President Donald Trump for his response to the coronavirus outbreak which they claimed had enabled China to boost its global clout.

“Trump’s ineptitude is exposed, but more than that, the US is not there to help others. We are not a global power in this pandemic, and people will remember that. When there’s a void, there’s always something to fill the void. China is filling the void”, Cynthia Schneider, who was the US ambassador to the Netherlands from 1998 to 2001, told the news outlet.

Referring to New York recently accepting 1,000 ventilators from Beijing after Trump rejected calls from Governor Andrew Cuomo for more machines, Schneider said that the US is “not only not providing leadership in terms of how people should be behaving at a time like this, but we are ourselves requiring and relying on aid from other countries; our states are receiving aid from China”.

“The world does not have red states and blind Trump followers. The world can see the absolute terrifying and fatal ineptitude of the Trump administration. There’s no global Fox News that’s going to tell a different, false story”, she added.

Schneider claimed that one of America’s strengths has always been its capacity for self-criticism, “recognising our faults, and trying to correct them”, something that she said “is of course completely absent in the Trump administration”.

She was echoed by Jack Chow, who was a US ambassador for global HIV/AIDS during the George W. Bush administration and ex-World Health Organisation (WHO) assistant director-general.

He accused POTUS of failing to “have America activate any conventional international consortium” to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, adding that the UN Security Council, as well as the G7, the G20, NATO, and central banks “have not coalesced around any grand strategy due to Trump’s abdication of leadership in those US-anchored alliances”.

Chow argued that “the lack of a global health defence network that could have been empowered by American medical expertise meant that the virus blossomed wherever underpreparation and slowfootedness prevailed”.

Also blaming Trump’s coronavirus-related stance was Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development who oversaw the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as director for foreign disaster assistance at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

She accused the Trump administration of failing to understand that “global leadership is not about telling other countries what to do, it’s about being willing to be the first in line to do it”,

“The world follows the signals we send with our own actions”, she told Business Insider. According to her, “the US […] getting into fights” with global institutions means that “we’re just leaving more space for others to occupy”.

Trump Pulls the Plug on WHO

The remarks come after Trump announced on Tuesday that he was pulling funding for the World Health Organisation while his administration conducts an investigation of the UN agency, claiming that it had impeded the US response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since its establishment the American people have generously supported the World Health Organisation. […] With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic we have deep concerns”, Trump told reporters.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was quick to respond to the move by stating that it is “[…] not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organisation or any other humanitarian organisation in the fight against the virus”.

The United States remains the nation worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 609,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 26,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.



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