President Donald Trump delivered a blunt ultimatum to the embattled World Health Organization late Monday, warning it will permanently lose U.S. funding unless it commits to “major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”
Trump suspended U.S. funding to the U.N. subsidiary last month, as Breitbart News reported, noting then the W.H.O. played a key role in “mismanaging and covering up” the global spread of the deadly Chinese coronavirus.
Now the president has moved beyond a funding suspension to a permanent cessation of all U.S. finance.
“They’re a puppet of China, they’re China-centric to put it nicer,” Trump said at the White House. “They gave us a lot of bad advice.”
In a letter to W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said he’ll reconsider the United States’ membership within the organization only after a host of improvements — predicated on it dropping ties with China — are made.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” the letter said.
“The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China,” it added, giving the body 30 days to show “substantive improvements”:
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
The letter outlines the bungled response from the W.H.O. and its relationship to China during the first days of the virus’ detection in Wuhan, saying it later overly relied on Chinese statements that led to “grossly inaccurate or misleading” information about its spread.
It also accuses the W.H.O. of being “curiously insistent on praising China for its ‘transparency’” and failing to call on Beijing to allow for an independent investigation into the origins of the deadly coronavirus.
The letter mentions the W.H.O.’s call for people to avoid travel in and out of China during the 2003 SARS epidemic — issued by then-director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland — and its criticism of China during that outbreak as evidence the W.H.O. “could have done so much better” had it “followed Dr. Brundtland’s example.”
The United States gives between $400 million and $500 million a year to the W.H.O. in contrast to the roughly $40 million it receives from China, a fact Trump has previously highlighted:
Earlier in the day Trump rejected an invitation to address a virtual gathering held by the W.H.O. and instead directed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to deliver a “blistering” reponse to its failed coronavirus strategies.
Key amongst those was the W.H.O. claim in January that “preliminary investigations” by China found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus in Wuhan. Further, the organization pleaded with countries to keep borders open despite labeling the massive outbreak a global emergency.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
The W.H.O. and China were wrong on every single count and the human cost is still being calculated.
Since the virus emerged from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, more than 4.8 million people worldwide have been infected resulting in more than 318,000 deaths, according to a live tracker of the virus by Johns Hopkins University.