The annual meeting of the World Health Assembly — the general assembly of the World Health Organization — is normally not something that attracts major attention outside the circle of those directly concerned.

But the meeting this week was very different. Here, the post-American world was on full display as it has seldom been seen before. It is not that the United States has ceased to exist — far from it. But it has left behind any ambition of global leadership and any function as a global inspiration.

And that is very new. Tragically so.

The first prominent speaker on the virtual meeting, with audience members throughout the world, was Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was a polished, confident and probably effective performance. His speech contained four messages: China has mastered the crisis and has put it behind itself; China is ready to help the rest of the world, notably Africa; China stands for transparency, including a review on what happened once we all have put the crisis begin us; and a vaccine has to be seen as a global public good available to all.