U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz says China’s growing influence over the World Health Organization poses a danger for global health.
In an interview with Newsmax, the first-term Republican from St. Augustine highlighted some connections he views as troublesome.
Foremost among them: WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is Ethiopia’s former Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Likewise, China is Ethiopia’s biggest trading partner and hold’s half the African nation’s debt.
The connection, Waltz asserts, explains some of Tedros’ actions during the coronavirus pandemic.
In February, as the virus’ spread peaked in China, Tedros was discouraging global travel restrictions. Waiting until mid-March to upgrade the coronavirus from epidemic to pandemic is also seen as questionable in retrospect.
Waltz also points to Tedros’ praise for China’s transparency. The country has been accused of downplaying the number of cases and deaths caused by the new coronavirus. As well, the initial warnings issued by a Chinese physician went unheeded.
“Ethiopia is hugely indebted to China because many of their infrastructure programs — roads, bridges, ports — that China is [putting up] in Ethiopia and frankly, all over Africa right now, where they do what we called ‘debt diplomacy.’ I call [China] the ‘payday lender’ of the world, except they don’t take your TV or your radio — they take your infrastructure,” Waltz said.
“What China is doing with these international organizations, is they’re influencing those that are beholden to China to get their people into places like the World Health Organization and the United Nations, for that matter.”
Waltz also discussed a bipartisan initiative to shut down China’s wildlife markets over their links to deadly diseases. The new coronavirus is suspected to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan. The 2003 outbreak of SARS is also thought to have originated in a Chinese wet market.
COVID-19 is believed to be a zoonotic virus passed on to humans from bats. Some assert a bat purchased at a wet market could be the source.
Bats are the hypothesized source of several viral outbreaks, Ebola, SARS and MERS among them. Their tendency to roost in the tens of thousands provides ample opportunity for viral spread and mutation to a human affliction.
“If the WHO was truly neutral and objective and looking out for global health, then they would be putting tremendous public pressure on China to keep these markets closed, yet China has already reopened them,” Waltz said.
“The conditions in them are horrific, hugely unsanitary and that’s how we see this animal-to-animal transmission … [and] sometimes animal-to-human transmission.”
Waltz’s full interview is below.