As US decided to suspend funding for the World Health Organization, China said on Wednesday that it was “seriously concerned” about the move and urged Washington to fulfill its obligations during the coronavirus pandemic.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused the Geneva-based body of putting political correctness above life-saving measures as he ordered the funding freeze for “mismanaging” the pandemic.
“China is seriously concerned about the US announcement to suspend funding for the World Health Organization,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing, reported AFP.
“The current global epidemic situation is grim. It is at a critical moment. This US decision will weaken WHO’s capacities and undermine the international cooperation against the epidemic.”
US and China have been sparring over the deadly virus, which was first reported in China and has killed more than 125,000 worldwide.
Trump’s latest decision reflects his belief that the WHO has been biased towards China, colluding to prevent the US’ main economic rival from having to be open about the unfolding health crisis.
“We urge the United States to earnestly fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, and support the WHO-led international action against the epidemic,” Zhao said, adding that the agency plays an “irreplaceable role” against the pandemic.
Trump had expressed his disappointment in the organisation earlier this month also when he accused WHO of being ‘China-centric’. Speaking during the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House on April 7, Trump said his administration would take “a good look” at its contributions to the WHO, while questioning some of its advice.
“They called it wrong,” he said, adding: “They really, they missed the call. Fortunately, I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
On US funds to the WHO he had said, “We’re going to put a hold on money spent… we’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see.”
The WHO receives its funding from both government and private sources. Its funding is also split into mandatory and voluntary contributions. According to BBC report,the US government is the largest of these voluntary contributors, accounting for just under 15% of WHO funding in 2019. But the next biggest was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, making up nearly 10% of funding.