China lashes out at US over WHO withdrawal
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the move was another demonstration of the White House’s “unilateralism” and warned the withdrawal will hinder international efforts to tackle the coronavirus.
“As the most authoritative and professional international organization for global public health security, the World Health Organization plays a central and irreplaceable role in coordinating global efforts against COVID-19,” Zhao said at a press conference.
“As the international fight against COVID-19 is now at a crucial stage, it is an international consensus that to support WHO is to support international cooperation and to support saving lives.”
“The US withdrawal will undercut international combat against the virus, which will have particularly severe impact on developing countries that are in urgent need of international support. We urge the US to fulfill its due international responsibilities and obligations and behave as a responsible major country.”
The rebuke comes a day after the White House submitted the U.S.’s WHO withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general. The withdrawal will not take effect until July 6, 2021, raising the prospect that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden could reverse the move if he wins the White House this year.
Trump first froze U.S. funds to the WHO in April amid an internal review of his administration’s relationship with the group and ultimately announced at the end of May that the U.S. was “terminating” ties with it.
The announcement of the break followed criticism from Trump and some Republicans that the WHO faltered in its response to the coronavirus and abetted China’s alleged efforts to cover up the extent of the first COVID-19 outbreak.
“The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric,” Trump tweeted in April.
The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2020
Still, the move was met with criticism by Democrats and some Republicans, who said that the withdrawal should not have been announced in the middle of a historic global pandemic.
“I disagree with the president’s decision. Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Tuesday.
The U.S. is the WHO’s largest donor, giving more than $450 million per year. However, it must reimburse about $200 million in current and past dues before the withdrawal would be able to take effect.