The World Health Organization (WHO)’s 73rd World Health Assembly was held virtually through TV conference system on May 18-19. If times had been normal, in other words, if the new coronavirus infection had not occurred, the assembly would not have attracted this much attention.
This assembly was held amid mutual accusations between the US and China. The US President Trump is blaming the Chinese government for causing the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Wuhan City last December and for initially covering up the outbreak which resulted in what he describes as ‘mass worldwide killing’. President Trump also stated that the Chinese government is obliged to pay compensation to other countries for the socio-economic damages caused by the pandemic. Furthermore, the President accused the WHO, which he called a ‘puppet of China’, of conveying wrong information by merely relying on what the Chinese government said. The US temporarily suspended funding to the WHO in mid-April, and the President sent a letter to Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stating that if there is no improvement on this matter within 30 days, the US will permanently freeze its funding to WHO.
In response, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that all of China’s information on the new coronavirus had been made public, and that China pledged US$ 2 billion to the WHO mainly to help the developing countries in tackling the coronavirus infection and other related activities. China says it will stand with Africa, including Ethiopia. The WHO is said to be fully supported by China. Mr. Tedros is from Ethiopia.
While the US, EU, Japan and other countries had supported Taiwan’s participation in the WHO’s assembly as an observer, Taiwan was not invited to this year’s assembly yet again. It is because China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory, opposes Taiwan’s independence. Since Taiwan was successful in ceasing the new coronavirus infection due to its health care system which is said to be one of the most excellent systems in the world, it was a great loss to all the assembly attendants that they could not listen to Taiwan’s successful experience in controlling the new coronavirus.
The US is the largest contributor to the WHO followed by China and Japan among the participating countries as of 2020. I heard that the Japanese government had informed the WHO of its support for Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the assembly, but it seems meaningless to me unless Japan tells that directly to China. Taking advantage of the situation where Japan is currently busy concentrating on the control of the new coronavirus, China is frequently intruding into the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, and occupies many islands in the South China Sea, and the territorial rights of these islands are now disputed between China and its neighboring countries. I believe that Japan should have protested against such China’s unlawful actions along with the Taiwan issue.
Nowadays, the conflict between the US and China is dominant in almost any international organizations. The phenomena remind me of the cold war between the US and the then Soviet Russia (currently Russia) which had lasted from the late 1940s until the time when the Soviet Russia collapsed in 1991. The cold war ultimately ended primarily because the Western Bloc surpassed the Eastern Bloc in terms of the economic power. However, so far as China is concerned, it is already the second largest economic power following the US, and is making efforts to surpass the US economy. Although both Russia and China are communist countries, compared with Leninism in the Soviet Russia, Mao Tse-tung’s thoughts which have been carried down to the current regime led by President Xi Jinping are much tougher than Leninism. During the Cold War period, the Western Bloc countries united under the leadership of the US, but in the present conflict between the US and China, the US seems to be alone.
To what extent will the US conflict with communist China and maintain its economic power at the same time? To what extent will Japan respond to the US actions? Japan must prepare an answer for this question, in other words, develop its international strategy, on its own, and of course, it is not an easy task.