China Ponies Up $30 Million for WHO After Trump Freeze

China’s donation was an implicit rebuke to the Trump administration, which has frozen U.S. funding to the World Health Organization.

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets President Trump during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last year. (AP file photo/Susan Walsh, File)

BEIJING (AFP) — China said Thursday it will give another $30 million to the World Health Organization to help in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic, days after President Donald Trump said he would freeze funding.

Trump last week accused the organization of “mismanaging” the Covid-19 crisis, drawing ire from Beijing as both countries spar over the deadly virus. The United States was WHO’s biggest donor.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the new donation would be in addition to a previous $20 million committed, and would help “strengthen developing countries’ health systems.” 

He said that China’s contribution to the U.N. agency “reflects the support and trust of the Chinese government and people for the WHO.”

In announcing the funding freeze last week, Trump accused the WHO of covering up the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak in China before it spread.

He claimed the WHO was “very China-centric” despite Washington’s funding.

According to Trump, U.S. taxpayers provided $400 million to $500 million per year to the WHO, while “in contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less.”

Trump also claimed the outbreak could have been contained with “very little death” had the WHO assessed the situation in China accurately.

The deadly virus, which has claimed more than 181,000 lives worldwide, emerged in late December in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, which was locked down in late January to curb the spread.

It continued its global march, however, with cases reported in 193 countries and territories to date, ravaging economies around the globe.

Beijing has urged the United States to support WHO-led international action against the pandemic after it stopped funding, and observers warned that the U.S. freeze would have consequences for the WHO’s other disease control programs around the world.

China has denied Western suggestions that it covered up the extent of the virus outbreak, rejecting claims it has an overly cozy relationship with the WHO as well.

But Chinese authorities did silence doctors who tried to raise the alarm about the virus in Wuhan in December. 

An investigation determined that police “inappropriately” punished one of the whistleblowers, Li Wenliang, an eye doctor who later died of the Covid-19 disease.

Trump accused rhe WHO, under the leadership of Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, of uncritically accepting China’s early assertions that the virus was not spread between humans, and of wrongly praising Beijing’s “transparency” about the magnitude of the crisis.

The pandemic, combined with the threat of a halt in U.S. funding, is the biggest challenge to date in Tedros’ nearly three-year tenure.

“Supporting the WHO at this critical time in the global fight against the epidemic is defending the ideals and principles of multilateralism and upholding the status and authority of the United Nations,” Geng said.

The United States is the country worst-hit by the coronavirus, with a death toll of more than 47,600.

Numbers in China have dwindled as it begins to cautiously lift virus control measures, although fears remain about a potential resurgence and infections imported from abroad.

© Agence France-Presse

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