• Directory of Taiwan

'Are we surprised?' Tedros to speak at China university commencement

Tedros speech at Tsinghua commencement raises questions about 'cozy relationship between WHO and CCP'

Tedros Adhanom (left), Xi Jinping (right). 

Tedros Adhanom (left), Xi Jinping (right).  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite continued criticism for his handling of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom will be the featured commencement speaker at China's Tsinghua University next week.

Tedros is slated to deliver the commencement speech for Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM) on June 21, according to an announcement released by the school Monday (June 15). Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including a sudden outbreak in Beijing, where the campus is located, Tedros will be delivering the speech online.

Tedros has come under heavy criticism from many circles for ignoring Taiwan's warning on Dec. 31 that COVID-19 could be transmitted from human to human and for not announcing that this was indeed a possibility until Jan. 22. Out of apparent deference to China, the WHO did not declare the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) until Jan. 28 and chose not to label it a pandemic until March 11.

Criticizing the WHO and its leadership for perceived close ties to China, U.S. President Donald Trump on May 19 threatened to withdraw from the organization if reforms were not made and an investigation into its handling of the pandemic was not carried out within 30 days. Dissatisfied with the WHO's response to his demands, the U.S. withdrew from the organization on May 29.

In response to the news that Tedros will be speaking at Tsinghua, Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Monday took to Twitter to sarcastically ask "are we surprised?" Scott then pointed out that Tsinghua is the university where many of China's top communist leaders have graduated, including Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平).

Scott wrote that Tedros' participation in the graduation ceremony raises more questions about "the cozy relationship between the WHO and the Chinese Communist Party."

Updated : 2021-10-18 16:59 GMT+08:00