Germany: You know who'd be awesome running WHO?


If you had “China-backed incumbent who botched a viral outbreak into a historic deadly pandemic,” collect your winnings at the Berlin OTB window. If you bet that Tedros Ghebreyesus would end up unchallenged for a new term at the World Health Organization after the scandals of COVID-19, you might end up owning Berlin.

Oh, wait … China owns Berlin, but we’ll get to that in a moment:

Germany said Wednesday it was nominating World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for a new term, with diplomatic sources saying he appeared to be the sole candidate.

With Germany’s nomination secured, the 56-year-old former Ethiopian health and foreign minister appeared to be the only person in the race a day before the deadline for submissions on Thursday.

Tedros was elected as the head of WHO in 2017 and became the first African to take the helm of the UN health agency.

This part almost caused a spit-take:

Tedros is relatively popular because of his role in steering the WHO’s efforts to coordinate the tumultuous global pandemic response.

This firmly establishes that “failing upward” is an international phenomenon, nicht wahr? It would be impossible to review or even sum up all of WHO’s failures and cover-ups in the COVID-19 pandemic, but feel free to start with our tags for Tedros and WHO as a start. Under Tedros’ leadership, WHO constantly misled the world on China’s response to the first COVID-19 outbreaks; they passed along false information about its transmission characteristics based on China’s propaganda; and also obstructed any legitimate inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 until it was too late to make any definitive resolution of that question.

All of this and more was to be expected of Tedros, who owed his job to Xi Jinping and has been a reliable toady of Beijing ever since. Germany’s nomination of Tedros to a new term rather than China advancing it directly comes as something of a surprise, though. Why would Germany do Xi’s heavy lifting here?

Perhaps it has something to do with the bottom line. Guess which Western  country has a significant trade surplus with China? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count:

Table 1a shows the imports of goods from China by Member State. The three largest importers from China in the EU were the Netherlands (EUR 91 071 million), Germany (EUR 82 039 million) and France (EUR 35 993 million). Czechia (41.5 %) had the highest share for China in its extra-EU imports.

Table 1b shows the exports of goods to China by Member State. The three largest exporters to China in the EU were Germany (EUR 96 426 million), France (EUR 17 493 million) and the Netherlands (EUR 15 692 million). Germany (16.8 %) had the highest share for China in its extra-EU exports.

The trade in goods balance between the EU Member States and China is shown in Table 1c. It shows that three Member States had a trade surplus with China. The largest surplus was held by Germany (EUR 14 388 million), followed by Ireland (EUR 6 025 million) and Finland (EUR 571 million). There were 24 Member States that had a trade deficit with China. The largest deficit was held by the Netherlands (EUR 75 379 million), followed by Poland (EUR 20 268 million) and Italy (EUR 19 257 million).

That’s a healthy €14 billion-plus per year net for Germany’s economy. It’s possible that Germany wants Tedros to stay at WHO for other reasons, but … what reasons could those be, given the WHO’s performance over the last two years? The key beneficiary is Xi, and the best way to check motives is to follow the money.

Even with that, however, why is Tedros running unopposed? After all, each of the member-states in WHO can nominate a replacement and trigger an actual vote. Doesn’t the Biden administration have anyone else in mind for that job? Where are the other hard-hit nations such as Italy, the UK, or practically anyone else other than China? Returning Tedros to run the WHO only demonstrates what a useless organization it has become, and how weak international organizations truly are in demanding transparency and accountability.