Trump Gives WHO Ultimatum, Threatens to Pull Funding
On Monday, President Donald Trump warned to permanently draw US funding from the World Health Organization if it does not “commit to major substantive developments in the next 30 days.”
In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump stated, “It is obvious the repeated missteps by you, and your organization is reacting to the pandemic have been very costly for the world. The only way progressive for the World Health Organization is if it can demonstrate liberation from China.
“My administration has already started conversations with you on how to improve the organization. But progress is required immediately. We do not have time to waste.”
The threat comes at an exceptional time. The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 90,000 Americans and more than 318,000 people worldwide as of late Monday and, while there are promising signs from some vaccine trials, there is no cure for the virus.
The letter also underscores the extent to which blame aimed at the WHO, and China has become a defining part of the President’s response to the outbreak. When many of his predecessors would rely on global institutions to help stem the tide of a pandemic, Trump’s ultimatum is just the latest sign of his distrust toward world entities.
Monday’s letter on official White House letterhead, screenshots of which were posted to Twitter, assails the WHO’s stance toward China throughout the pandemic. It lists a series of allegations that the organization overlooked warning signs.
“I cannot allow American taxpayer money to proceed to fund an organization that, in its modern state, is so definitely not serving America’s concerns,” the President wrote.
Trump explicitly criticized the WHO for “political gamesmanship” for endorsing China’s strict domestic travel stipulations while being “inexplicably against my closing of the United States frontier.”
He went on to highlight the WHO’s reaffirmation of “China’s now-debunked claim that the coronavirus could not be transmitted between humans.”
The move comes after Trump temporarily halted funding to the organization last month. “The US funds $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year,” Trump said, noting that China “contributes roughly $40 million.”
“Had the WHO done its work to get medical specialists into China to evaluate the situation on the ground justly and to call out China’s deficit of transparency, the outbreak could have been held at its origin with very few death,” Trump responded then.
Tedros responded at the time by affirming that the WHO will continue working with other countries and argued that unity is key to fighting the coronavirus.
Trump’s decision to temporarily withdraw funding from the WHO follows a pattern of skepticism of world organizations that began well before the coronavirus outbreak The President has questioned the value of the US funding sent to the United Nations, has withdrawn from global climate agreements and lambasted the World Trade Organization — claiming all were ripping off the US.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has criticized China and global institutions for problems plaguing the US, and the coronavirus pandemic has served as another data point in his attacks.
Trump has frequently criticized the WHO as “China-centric” and losing to “objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of clarity” as the coronavirus death toll rises globally.
However, his harsh comments are a far cry from his past statements on the nation and its leader, Xi Jinping, whom Trump praised for his transparency and management of the outbreak in January.
The pandemic has killed more than 317,000 people worldwide, with over 4.7 million confirmed cases, while recoveries have surpassed 1.7 million, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
At least 90,246 have died of the illness across the United States.