By Barack Obama’s second term, the United States and China were expanding this public-health cooperation to the rest of the world. When Ebola hit West Africa in 2014, American and Chinese personnel worked together at a Chinese-built laboratory in Sierra Leone and off-loaded supplies from a Chinese transport plane in Liberia. As the Carter Center has noted, many of the health experts whom China dispatched to fight Ebola had been trained by the Americans whom the Bush administration had sent to Beijing a decade earlier.
Once again, these joint efforts saved lives. From 2014 to 2016, 28,000 people in West Africa contracted Ebola, far fewer than the 1.4 million the U.S. CDC had predicted near the beginning of the outbreak. In August 2014, 40 percent of Americans told pollsters that they expected a “large outbreak” of Ebola in the United States. Ultimately, only a single American died. On Obama’s final trip to China in 2016, the two governments agreed to jointly finance a headquarters for the African Union’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention so that the continent could better fight infectious diseases itself.
The Trump administration is now trying to prevent that headquarters from being built. That’s just one example of the wrecking ball it has taken to public-health cooperation with Beijing. In 2018, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was “dramatically downsizing” the global “epidemic prevention activities” Obama had launched following the Ebola crisis. This year, even as the coronavirus outbreak was raging, Trump proposed cutting American funding for WHO in half.