In both cases, neither the WHO nor the UN’s top human rights bureaucrats nor the UN Human Rights Council investigated Beijing’s role in censoring warnings to the world community of looming dangers.
Some countries are now betting that China’s economic assistance will more than offset the costs of its rights-violating behavior. But these countries should heed the other implications of the Chinese saying: the chicken’s death should cause the monkey to pay attention and ask questions, not turn its head and look away.
Beijing’s money may be able to buy some friends for some purposes, but it can’t buy back the lives and livelihoods shattered by the pandemic. The world needs rights-based leadership to shape the international response to the coronavirus.
Since World War II, America has led the responses of freedom-loving nations to global crises, including those spawned by totalitarian regimes. Given China’s rising influence at the UN, the international community urgently needs to grasp the intrinsic relationship between human rights, accountability, and public health. Leadership needs to come not just from America, but from democracies around the world. Otherwise, Beijing may further violate and transform international norms unleashing even more deadly global catastrophes in the future.
Emilie Kao is the director of The Heritage Foundation’s Devos Center for Religion & Civil Society.