President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the United States was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) as he laid down the gauntlet against China.
“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and directing those funds to worldwide and deserving, urgent global public health needs,” he said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
He blamed the move on China not being transparent enough about the ‘Wuhan’ virus, which is what he has called the coronavirus and slammed Beijing’s over reach in Hong Kong.
Trump did not take questions at the Friday afternoon event, which the White House billed as a news conference. His less than 10 minutes of remarks were focused exclusively on the WHO, China and Hong Kong.
Trump tried to explain his words in another round of tweets shortly before his event – where reporters were expected to quiz him on it – by saying he was simply stating a fact and not making a threat.
He kept his event focused on China, but held back on announcing tough new sanctions on launching a full-scale trade war, keeping his punishment focused on the WHO.
“China has total control over the World Health Organisation, despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act,” Trump said.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, has defended his agency’s work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus.
Trump has targeted China since he took office, starting a trade war with Beijing.
The president also has been a frequent critic of the WHO’s relationship with China, complaining the group didn’t do enough to push that country to release information about the coroanvirus, which was first detected in Wuhan.
“China’s cover-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,” he said.
Trump also announced Hong Kong’s role as a global financial centre is at risk after China insisted on imposing a strict political crackdown of the territory.
“I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment,” he said.
The World Health Organization became a target of President Trump in his blame game as he points the finger for the devastating effects of the coronavirus – an economic down turn and over 100,000 American deaths – at everyone but his administration. Also feeling Trump’s fury has been China, the states, governors and the Democrats.
The president has called it ‘China-centric’ and complained they ‘missed the call’ when it came to the coronavirus.
Trump’s main beef with the United Nations health group is that leadership there said it wasn’t necessary to ban traveller coming in from China as the coronavirus started spreading beyond Wuhan, where it originated.