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China’s global influence operation goes way beyond the WHO

13 5 16
01.04.2020

Washington – The viral video really does tell the story. Over the weekend, a senior adviser at the World Health Organization abruptly shut down an interview after being asked about Taiwan’s role in the organization. The episode has been interpreted correctly as a marker of how China has used the WHO as a tool in its diplomatic struggle to isolate and delegitimize a democratic Taiwan.

Yet China’s influence in the WHO is only a small part of a much larger story involving Beijing’s relationship to international organizations. For decades, U.S. officials hoped that bringing Beijing into those organizations would change China, by socializing it into the patterns of responsible global governance. They paid less attention to the danger that has now materialized — that China might change those organizations instead.

The logic behind America’s “responsible stakeholder” approach was that the best way to keep China from challenging the international order was to demonstrate that it could thrive within it. Encouraging Beijing to expand its role in international organizations — from the United Nations to the alphabet soup of bodies dealing with specific issues from international communications to civil air traffic — was crucial.

It would show Chinese officials the virtues of positive-sum cooperation in dealing with global challenges, from nuclear proliferation to management of the world economy. It would accustom Beijing to exercising leadership in a constructive, responsible fashion. It would promote, as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick argued in 2005, the emergence of “a China that not only adjusts to the international rules developed over the last century, but also joins us and others to address the........

© The Japan Times