Amid the growing criticism the World Health Organization (WHO) has come under over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its perceived bias towards China, the global health agency has received an additional $30 million from Beijing. The total amount that China has donated over the last two months is now $50 million.
Hua Chunying, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, made the announcement, claiming that,
supporting WHO is supporting multilateralism and global solidarity.
China’s latest voluntary contribution to the WHO comes a week after President Trump announced that the U.S. would be halting its funding to the agency. The withdrawal came after Trump accused the WHO of incompetence:
They did give us some pretty bad play calling … with regard to us, they’re taking a lot of heat because they didn’t want the borders closed, they called it wrong. They really called, I would say, every aspect of it wrong.
Earlier this month, Trump criticized the WHO as being “very China-centric.”
In late January, for instance, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus argued that imposing travel restrictions on travelers from China had “little public health benefit.” Trump went ahead with the ban, anyway.
Besides Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo harshly criticized the international health agency. Earlier this week, Pompeo said the WHO had placed “political correctness over lifesaving measures.”
It may be the case that the United States can never return to underwriting, having U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the WHO.
Pompeo also declined to rule out demanding the resignation of the WHO Director-General.
Currently, a global petition calling for Ghebreyesus’ resignation is approaching a million signatures.
Currently, the U.S. is the WHO’s most significant contributor, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For several years, the assessed contribution of the world’s largest economy to the WHO has ranged between $107 million and $119 million.
Washington’s voluntary contribution reached a decade high of $513 million in 2017. Last year, it contributed $419 million. About 80% of WHO’s revenue is from voluntary contributions.
Compared to the U.S., China’s assessed contributions from 2014 to 2020 amounted to just $86 million–about 10% of the amount the U.S. contributed over the same period.
The WHO Director-General is viewed with suspicion because many believe he lacks objectivity with regards to China. Coincidentally or not, he owes his position to China with Beijing having supported his election in 2017 over that of a U.S.-backed rival.
There have been various undisputed missteps with regard to how the WHO handled the coronavirus pandemic. WHO actively discouraged nations from taking action to prevent coronavirus from spreading after it was discovered in China.
Despite some of China’s neighbors reporting that the virus was being transmitted human-to-human, in mid-January, the WHO said there was no clear evidence.
WHO critics say the organization, unwittingly or not, assisted China in covering up the origins and spread of coronavirus in its early days.
Still, supporters of the global health agency believe the WHO is not at fault. Instead, its weaknesses are as a result of the international health regulations that govern it.
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