On Friday, Washington’s relationship with the WHO (World Health Organisation) was terminated by US President Donald Trump over accusations that China made the United Nations agency bow down to them, thus enabling the global spread of the Covid-19 virus pandemic.
During a White House press briefing, President Trump said “We have detailed the reforms that [the WHO] must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act”.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
Trump’s repeated assertion that the severity of the coronavirus that first emerged in Wuhan, a major city having international air transport links, was covered up by China, as authorities continued to allow international flights to operate in spite of a strict lockdown on January 23rd.
“China’s cover up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has caused more than 100,000 American lives, and over a million lives worldwide,” he said.
“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organisation and pressured the World Health Organisation to mislead the world.”
“Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China?” he added.
“It didn’t go to Beijing … but they allowed them to freely travel throughout the world, including Europe and the United States.”
“The death and destruction caused by this is incalculable.”
On May 5th, FactCheck.org, a consumer advocacy project run by the University of Pennsylvania, reported that flight records indicated China prevented international commercial flights out of Wuhan after January 23rd. This conclusion was made after FactCheck.org analysed data provided by Flightradar24, a global flight tracking service.
However, it was noted other parts of China continued their flights.
WHO representatives advised other countries to keep their borders open even as the virus spread. The advice was released on January 31st, which was the same day restrictions on travellers from China into the US were announced by the Trump administration.
After Trump’s announcement, close to 40,000 people arrived in the US after boarding flights from China as reported by the New York Times, and these travellers underwent screening protocols that were deemed inefficient.
China has been repeatedly blamed by Trump for the pandemic, together with its strong influence over the WHO since he announced the halting of US funding for the WHO back in April, pending a review of up to 90 days.
“Assessed contributions” from individual member nations according to their gross domestic product and population make up nearly 20 per cent of the WHO’s funding, while voluntary contributions make up the remaining 80 per cent.
The WHO’s own figures revealed that around 15 per cent of the combined total US$893 million was contributed by the US last year, making it the largest contributor, followed by Great Britain and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The WHO’s target was to raise US$44.4 billion in funding during the 2018-19 financial period. During that time, US$76 million was contributed by China in assessed contributions, and in voluntary contributions China contributed slightly over US$10 million.
In another related US – China spat, President Trump has also pledged to take action against China by removing Hong Kong’s special status after Beijing passed a new National Security Law, citing the former British colony is “no longer autonomous” from the mainland. This would mean special travel and customs exemptions currently enjoyed by Hong Kong would be soon eliminated.
Trump went on to say the move will affect “the full range of agreements” the US has with Hong Kong “with few exceptions”.
The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, did not cover President Trump’s announcement on Hong Kong, and Beijing’s Foreign Ministry has not made any comment. Instead media focus was primarily on Trump’s move to sever ties with the WHO.
30th May 2020 19:20
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