Trump says US is terminating relationship with World Health Organisation

US president escalates conflict with Beijing at event Chuck Schumer calls ‘pathetic’

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 29 May 2020 21:06 BST
Donald Trump says US is terminating relationship with World Health Organisation

Donald Trump said the United States is severing all ties with the World Health Organisation and announced other steps intended to punish that group and China for what he dubbed a “cover up” of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese soil – but he abruptly ended what he dubbed a press conference before he could face questions about the killing of a black man in Minnesota by a white police officer.

“The world deserves answers,” the president said about WHO and Chinese officials’ actions when the Covid-19 virus went public in China – then infected millions across the world.

He blamed Chinese officials for, in his words, having “pressured the World Health Organisation to mislead the world” about the virus.

“Countless lives have been taken” by Covid-19 and it spawned “profound economic hardship”, Mr Trump said.

Mr Trump added that Chinese officials have “violated” their promises, which he contended “cannot be swept aside”.

“China’s cover up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread throughout the world,” he said. “Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organisation.”

Mr Trump said he is terminating the US relationship with the WHO because they have refused to make changes his administration has requested, and will be redirecting funds now dedicated to the WHO elsewhere.

Meanwhile, on China, the president said he will give an order to his official to end special treatment for Hong Kong, a direct result of Chinese plans to enact a new law so it can crack down on the previously autonomous city-state.

He also said he will remove Hong Kong’s other special privileges, including an extradition treaty and commercial relations like export controls.

Targeting senior Chinese officials, Mr Trump said his administration will “take steps” to sanction any officials who have had a hand in the security clamp down inside Hong Kong.

The moves amount to an escalation in the Trump administration’s mostly trade-related conflict with Beijing.

The president described China’s move on Hong Kong as a “basic violation” of its treaty obligations.

Notably, Mr Trump did not remove the United States from a “phase one” trade pact his administration worked for several years before inking last year with China. He still hopes to sign a follow-on deal.

Congressional Democrats, who oppose ending relations with the WHO, slammed Mr Trump’s Rose Garden event.

“”President Trump’s Rose Garden event just now was pathetic. It perfectly encapsulates his inability to lead when our nation needs it most. The only question is whether President Trump is afraid to lead or just doesn’t know how,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a statement.

“America is reeling from 100,000 deaths and rising. 40 million have filed for unemployment. Our communities are hurting from senseless murders and years of racism and injustice,” he added. “But President Trump is only interested in scapegoating and divisiveness when he should be leading.”

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