Trump's latest threats against WHO show US failure to besiege China at WHA

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/19 17:29:55


US President Donald Trump's latest threat to permanently pull funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) and withdraw US membership shows that Washington's attempts to besiege China at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) have failed, as Trump, after failing to handle the coronavirus crisis domestically, is angry that the global community is close to reaching a consensus on COVID-19 response and evaluation, led by the WHO. 

Trump tweeted a letter to the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday, in which he harshly criticized the organization's "dependence" on China in its decision-making process and COVID-19 response. Trump also wrote in the letter that if the WHO "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days," he will make the temporary freeze of US funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider its membership of the organization.

On Monday, the WHA kicked off with leaders of WHO members delivering speeches and calling for a joint effort in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the US-led campaign to push for a political agenda, including seeking Taiwan's entry to the WHA as an observer and starting an inquiry targeting China, cast a shadow over the WHO's annual meeting. 

After leaders from member countries addressed the ongoing WHA meeting and agreed on joint efforts in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese President made five proposals including providing $2 billion over two years to help with the COVID-19 response, make a COVID-19 vaccine available to the world, working with G20 members to support the most severely stricken areas and helping regions like Africa, showing that China, the world's second largest economy, is shouldering its responsibilities in global affairs amid the unprecedented crisis. 

In contrast, the lack of US participation in the global fight further indicated the failure of the Trump administration, not only in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in his own country, but also in working with other countries due to significant flaws in its governance, analysts said. 

Experts and netizens in China and overseas ridiculed Trump for making so many baseless accusations against China and the WHO in his four-page letter, but neglecting to mention his administration's failure in controlling the disease. 

"He is like a giant baby, kicking up a row to force others to take responsibility for his own mistakes," a netizen commented. 

"Trump bluntly threatened the WHO to make changes - in order to satisfy the US, which shows hegemony. Does he really think he is God? Or does he think the WHO is a US-run entity to which he can give orders as he wishes?" Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The letter also shows that the US cares little about the operations of international multilateral mechanisms, such as the WHO, and has no respect for people's lives, Xin said.

"I do not think the US has the guts to withdraw from the WHO, as it has played such an important role in dealing with public health affairs, and the US has the largest number of infections of COVID-19 globally because of the Trump administration's failure to control the virus," Xin said.

"Trump's action can be seen as the US being frustrated in attempting to besiege China at the WHO. Trump believes the WHO failed to accomplish the mission to help him shift blame to China, and this is why he threatened to freeze its funding to the WHO," Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic situation continues to worsen, the harder Trump criticizes and attacks China and the WHO, the more it shows how angry he is becoming. 

Li noted that the US' possible freezing of funds to the WHO does not mean suspension of the international health organization. Many countries, including China, Russia and European countries, have recognized the WHO's leading role in fighting against COVID-19. However, a decision by Trump to end funds to the WHO goes against the opinion of the international community, and may lead the US to a pathetic situation. 

Trump's letter is also filled with online rumors. For example, it claimed that China pressured Tedros on January 21 not to declare the coronavirus outbreak an emergency. However, this claim was already refuted by the WHO on May 10, calling such false media reports unfounded and untrue, and a distraction to global efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

Trump miscalculated and targeted the wrong person for shifting blame and make barging on not taking international responsibilities, Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a press conference on Tuesday as commenting on the letter unveiled by the US President, in response to Trump's threat to cut off funding to the WHO and withdraw the membership. 

"It is futile to try to mislead the public in this specious way, discredit China's prevention and control efforts, and shirk its own failure to prevent and control the pandemic," said China FM spokesperson. 

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