“America first” the largest strike against multilateralism

The seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in the US as of July 23 was 40,246, an increase of 46.7 percent from the week before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US.

However, the resurging numbers means nothing to some American politicians. Instead of working on pandemic control at home, they are going on with their same old tricks, stigmatizing other countries, labeling the virus, and politicizing the origin tracing work.

To beautify its practice of discrediting other countries and undermining global anti-pandemic efforts, Washington has frequently employed the “multilateral organizations” and “partner countries” rhetoric, intending to speak for the international society.

What the White House has done totally goes against the consensus of the international society and is a kind of pseudo-multilateralism from head to foot.

The arbitrary political manipulation of the US has brought severe damage to the global cooperation on the fight against COVID-19, and caused huge troubles for the WHO.

Last year, the US played the stigmatization game when naming the coronavirus, which was a blatant violation of WHO rules, and even withdrew from the organization. This year, it called a few of its allies to deny the China-WHO joint research on the global tracing of COVID-19 origins, and brazenly made intelligence organizations to lead the origin tracing work. Making hypes of the “lab leak theory,” Washington has a clear goal – to shift the blame for its inability in pandemic control and oppress China.

What’s really in the mind of those American politicians yelling “America is back” is still “America first.” Egoism is all they worship.

More and more evidence shows that there was something doubtful about the early spread of COVID-19 in the US. The international society is totally justified to request an origin tracing investigation into the US, but Washington has always turned a deaf ear to the concerns of the rest of the world. As of Monday, July 26, over 13 million Chinese people have signed an open letter demanding that the WHO investigate Fort Detrick. Many foreigners also launched online petitions on social media, saying the whole world wants to know the truth about the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Stephen Kinzer, senior fellow with the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, said that Fort Detrick, which had cooperated with Japanese war criminals, is still a research center of the US for biological warfare. An investigation into the lab would be “interesting,” he added.

However, a US media organization revealed an internal warning from the US government that persuaded government officials “not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19” because it would “‘open a can of worms’ if it continued.”

While putting aside the questions raised by the international community, the US is bragging about its support for multilateral approaches. For Washington, the so-called multilateralism is only used to serve its own interests. Such hypocrisy would only hurt the genuine multilateralism that aims at international cooperation.

The essence of the American “multilateralism” is indeed forming cliques and pursuing bloc politics, which forces US hegemony on others.

The second phase of the origin tracing study proposed by the WHO has been opposed by multiple countries because it turns over the conclusion reached in the first stage of the work that the virus could have been originated in multiple countries and regions, and because it takes the so-called lab leak in a Chinese facility as a focus of the study.

Is such a work plan ignoring common sense and science, and seeing China as the only respondent a response to the “lab leak theory” speculated by the US? Is it launched to help the US oppress China politically?

A British scholar said Washington is now wielding coalition politics to scapegoat the WHO, and is coercing the organization in multiple situations. Obviously, the US’ returning to the world’s largest international organization in public health, was not for enhancing global anti-pandemic plan, but for spreading political virus to poison China.

For the US, politics comes before science. There’s nothing it wouldn’t do to tarnish China. American magazine Wired said in an article that what some Americans want is not an answer, and they are just using origin tracing, a long and complicated scientific process, to deepen people’s doubts, slander China, and distract from political problems at home.

However, the US is obviously having a misjudgment believing forming cliques would help it sidetrack the world. The US cannot represent the international society, and is not qualified to point fingers at others. Now more and more countries recognize the first-phase conclusions of the origin tracing and oppose politicizing the matter, which fully indicates that origin sourcing must adhere to genuine multilateralism, and must be led by WHO member countries based on extensive consultations.

Origin-tracing needs cooperation rather than discrediting, truth rather than lies, and respecting science rather than political manipulation. Over the past year, the US political manipulation over origin tracing has brought enough troubles for US citizens. At present, the pandemic is deteriorating in the country, and even American media said there was not enough time left for the US government. If Washington continues unilateral practices in the name of multilateralism, it will be further isolated and bring more pain to the Americans.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)