Donald Trump announced on Friday that he was terminating the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization, saying China has total control over it and the WHO has failed to enact reforms in response to the administration’s criticisms of the health organizations response to the pandemic.
Trump said at a press conference, “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
Last week, Health Secretary Alex Azar blamed the WHO for mishandling the emerging pandemic.
“We must be frank about one of the primary reasons this outbreak spun out of control,” Azar said. “There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives.”
In addition to cutting off the U.S.-WHO relationship and scoring China for its coronavirus failures, the president announced he’s suspending the entry of certain Chinese nationals and sanctioning Chinese officials who have eroded Hong Kong’s freedom. More sanctions are promised as China apparently seeks to distract the world from its culpability in allowing the pandemic to get started.
China has made aggressive moves against India, threatening New Delhi by moving troops and building fortifications along a disputed border. They have also begun a crackdown on the Hong Kong democracy movement, passing a law that all but eliminates the island’s autonomy guaranteed by treaty.
Beijing has also threatened military action against Taiwan “if diplomacy fails.”
A Chinese general has warned that Beijing will not rule out the use of force to take control of Taiwan, as the Chinese Communist Party closed its annual National People’s Congress in Beijing.
General Li Zuocheng, the chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission, said Friday that while peaceful diplomacy is preferred, China will consider using force to establish control over Taipei as part of its “One China” policy.
“If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions,” Li said, according to Reuters.
There isn’t much mystery as to why China is doing all this; they are desperate that the world looks elsewhere than consider the origins of the pandemic.
As for the WHO, they just wish the whole thing would go away. The WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said they will review their response to the coronavirus and defended its “independence.”
If they’re so independent, why did they let China bully them into soft-pedaling the prospects of a pandemic?
Trump is exaggerating, of course. The WHO is not under China’s “total control.” But when Ghebreyesus carries out that “review,” it will be interesting to see how he deals with China’s gross interference in a public health crisis.