Coronavirus: China investing millions in WHO to make up for Trump cuts and boost its influence, officials say

Beijing adds funds to United Nations group as Washington pulls out amid tensions over its response to the Covid-19 pandemic

CDC director says WHO is a long-standing partner of his organisation

China has pledged to invest millions of additional dollars into the World Health Organisation (WHO) after Donald Trump announced he was cutting off US funding for the group while reviewing its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Beijing said it would contribute an additional $30m as the United Nations organisation battles the Covid-19 pandemic, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang saying in a press briefing on Thursday the money would support those efforts as well as “the construction of public health systems in developing countries”.

The move comes as officials warn China has used funding for the organisation as a means to increase its own power throughout the world.

Beijing previously announced in a statement just last month that it was adding an additional $20m in funds for the group to “help small and medium-sized countries with weak public health systems in particular” during the pandemic.

Mr Trump meanwhile suspended $400m in funding for the organisation earlier this month, saying the group took assertions from Beijing about the novel virus “at face value” as it began to spread throughout China.

“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” Mr Trump said at a White House press conference, adding that “the outbreak could have been contained at its source” had the group handled the outbreak appropriately from the beginning.

The president has been accused of attempting to cast blame on the international group as criticism mounts over his own administration’s seemingly slow response to the virus. Health experts have said the US outbreak was significantly worsened by a lack of expansive Covid-19 testing capabilities in the initial months of the pandemic.

China’s foreign ministry slammed the decision, saying it “will weaken the WHO’s capabilities and undermine international cooperation” surrounding efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“China will as always support the WHO in playing an important role in international public health and global anti-epidemic response”, the ministry said earlier this month.

The additional funding has been allocated because “Beijing sees an opportunity to boost its superficial credentials as a global contributor to the pandemic following the US decision to halt funding to WHO”, John Lee, former national security adviser to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, told Business Insider.

He added: “When [WHO] leadership is called to make decisions of global health concern such as with the current pandemic, such decisions tend to be overly influenced by political rather than health priorities.”

The decision to suspend contributions to the organisation, which has a $4.8bn annual budget, received extensive criticism from health experts.

“Fighting a global pandemic requires international cooperation and reliance on science and data,” Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, told Politico.

It was not clear when and if the US would continue funding WHO after the pandemic.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in