by J Michael Waller / Center for Security Policy / April 8, 2020 – The World Health Organization’s unprecedented attack on an American president featured a Chinese propaganda term that is now splashed across international headlines. Soon, Chinese propaganda will recycle it as a quote from the United Nations’ health organization, and not from the Communist Party where it originated.
WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ stinging attack on President Trump is a case study of skillful use of how foreign propaganda originates, spreads like a virus, then is re-transmitted through a surrogate to enter the international mainstream.
Tedros, who had served Ethiopia’s Communist junta years before being picked by China to lead the WHO, has faithfully executed Beijing’s line, as the Center for Security Policy has documented in its pandemic propaganda timeline.
WHO embraces Chinese government’s ‘politicize’ term
Tedros has begun a peculiar term that Beijing injected into international discussions in late March to prevent other countries from blaming the Chinese government for the pandemic. The term is “politicize” – not in the partisan political sense, but in the international sense of placing blame on China.
Responding to Trump’s criticism of WHO as a tool of the Chinese government and to the American leader holding Beijing to blame, Tedros lashed out on April 8. “If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it,” he said, defending China at the same time.
Again, Tedros said, “Please don’t politicise this virus … Quarantine, politicising COVID … we shouldn’t waste time pointing fingers … It’s like playing with fire… We need to behave.”
Here is a timeline-within-a-timeline to show how the Chinese regime first surfaced “politicize” as a new Party line, and how WHO subsequently pushed it into the mainstream:
- March 26: China Daily quotes the Chinese foreign ministry as saying, “We urge the US to stop politicizing the epidemic, and stop attacking and slandering China.” The People’s Daily headline is, “China opposes politicizing of epidemic.”
- March 30: People’s Liberation Army starts promoting the line in English: “Politicizing the pandemic is an act of shifting blame and shirking responsibilities. The Trump administration has been using the pandemic to … viciously smear China. . . .”
- April 1: People’s Daily headline says, “Politicizing China’s foreign assistancedoes no good for global efforts against COVID-19″
- April 8: WHO Director Tedros repeats the line to journalists:
- “If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.”
- “Please don’t politicise this virus … Quarantine, politicising COVID … we shouldn’t waste time pointing fingers … It’s like playing with fire… We need to behave.”
- Party line goes mainstream. Now the party line becomes part of mainstream news coverage. Here’s a sampling of April 8 news headlines in English about Tedros’ comments, none of which associate The Who chief’s statements with the established line from Beijing, and turns the United States into the bad actor:
- Agence France Presse: “Don’t politicise virus, WHO chief says after Trump blast.”
- BBC: “Coronavirus: ‘Do not politicize this virus‘ – WHO head.”
- Evening Standard (UK): “WHO calls for ‘quarantine on politicizing Covid-19‘ as it hits back against criticism from Donald Trump.”
- The Journal (Ireland): “‘Please don’t politicize this virus‘: WHO responds to Trump’s threat to defund organisation.”
- South China Morning Post (Hong Kong): “World Health Organisation chief slams US for politicizing coronavirus crisis.” [SCMP also notes that Tedros criticized Taiwan.]
- Yahoo News: “WHO chief says politicization of Covid-19 will lead to ‘more body bags.’”