US “terminating relationship” with World Health Organization, Trump says
"China has total control over the World Health Organization," Trump claims.by Jon Brodkin
President Trump today said the US government is "terminating our relationship" with the World Health Organization, alleging that the global health group has not implemented needed reforms and that it is controlled entirely by China.
"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year, compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said during a brief press conference at the White House Rose Garden (see video).
Trump halted funding to WHO in mid-April. On May 18, he sent a letter to WHO, saying that the US will permanently stop funding the group if it "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days." It's only been 11 days since then, but Trump said today he is moving ahead with his threat.
"Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization, and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent global public health needs," Trump said.
Congress could try to stop Trump from pulling the US out of the WHO, which is a United Nations agency. As CNBC wrote today, "It's unclear exactly what mechanism Trump intends to use to terminate WHO funding, much of which is appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding."
A WHO official recently said that the US cutting funding has "a major implication for delivering essential health services to some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and we trust developed donors will, if necessary, step in to fill that gap," CNBC wrote.
After Trump first made the threat in mid-April, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Trump's action is "dangerous, illegal, and will be swiftly challenged." On April 27, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs launched an inquiry into Trump's decision to withhold funding.
Trump also targets Chinese students and companies
Today, Trump spoke for 10 minutes and walked away without taking questions from the press. Besides pulling out of WHO, Trump announced he has issued "a proclamation to better secure our nation's vital university research and to suspend the entry of certain foreign nationals from China, who we have identified as potential security risks." Moreover, Trump said he is instructing his presidential working group on financial markets "to study the differing practices of Chinese companies listed on the US financial markets, with the goal of protecting American investors."
"China raided our factories, off-shored our jobs, gutted our industries, stole our intellectual property, and violated their commitments under the World Trade Organization," Trump said, blaming "past presidents" for allowing that to happen.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the WHO for not being tough enough on China during the pandemic. But Trump himself praised China for its "transparency" about the coronavirus on January 24 and repeatedly praised China for its coronavirus response throughout February. Today, Trump said that "Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities."
"China's covering up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives and more than a million lives worldwide," Trump said. "The world needs answers from China on the virus."