June 26, 2020 10:40 AM

Last week the Chinese government was embroiled in yet another war of words sparked by the term “disinformation”: this time levelled at it by Australia. The Australian foreign minister, Marise Payne, gave a speech on June 16 in which she accused the regime of spreading false information that, she said, “contributes to a climate of fear and division”. Payne told audiences in Canberra that she was concerned by the apparent rise in disinformation during the coronavirus pandemic, and also rejected as disinformation a recent claim by the Chinese government that would-be students and tourists would face racism if they visited Australia.he World Health Organization’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, like so many complicated narratives that must be simplified in today’s head-spinning news cycle, has become an ideological Rorschach test. If, before the pandemic, you were nationalistic, skeptical of international organizations, and hostile to China, you’re probably inclined to view the WHO’s deference toward Beijing as the inevitable response of a toothless organization that has been co-opted by China. If, on the other hand, you believed strongly in international cooperation, were opposed to President Trump, and sympathetic to the WHO’s mission, you may be quicker to forgive the organization for praising Beijing’s transparency.

Indeed, this divide emerged again and again as I asked global health experts, politicians, and advocates their opinion of the WHO response in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, this ideological split is to be expected among the general public. But that it persists among experts and policymakers to the degree that it does reflects a lack of direction that may forestall any attempt to meaningfully reform America’s relationship with an enormously consequential international institution… [continue reading]