Trump accuses WHO of being China-centric, says it 'called every shot wrong' in coronavirus pandemic
The World Health Organization (WHO) has found it challenging to balance itself between pro- and anti-China voices over the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic that reportedly started in Wuhan towards the end of last year.
The WHO leadership’s repeated praises of Beijing over its handling of the pandemic brought the international health body’s relationship with the Asian power under the scanner.
The WHO-China equation remained in the headlines on April 7 after US President Donald Trump lashed out at the UN agency to call it “China-centric”. He also said that he wanted the group to be looked into and also threatened to cut off funding for the health group from the US. “They called it wrong, they called it wrong, they missed the call,” Trump said during his daily press briefing at the White House.
“They should have known and they probably did know,” the commander-in-chief said, clearly suggesting that WHO was hiding information about the coronavirus.
While China was initially the most affected country, soon the West overtook it to face the disaster in a much bigger way. Besides the US, countries like Italy, Spain, France, and Germany now have more people affected by the virus than China where the death toll has also stagnated. The US is now home to the most affected population (nearly 400,000) while Italy has the most number of deaths (over 17,000).
Trump, who has repeatedly called the novel coronavirus as “Chinese Virus” despite objection from his opponents at home and China, accused the WHO leadership of downplaying the need to bar travelers from China even as the pandemic started spreading beyond Wuhan. Recently, it was learnt that at least 430,000 people flew in from China into the US since the virus started spreading.
WHO too friendly with China?
Trump has also received complaints from the conservative camp that the WHO has been too comfortable with China during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The WHO, that’s the World Health Organization, receives vast amounts of money from the United States and we pay for a majority, the biggest portion of their money, and they actually criticized and disagreed with my travel ban at the time I did it,” Trump said during his briefing. “And they were wrong. They've been wrong about a lot of things.”
“And they had a lot of information early and they didn't want to - they seemed to be very China-centric,” the President, who has taken on China in a comprehensive trade war in his term, said.
On warning the WHO over cutting off funding, Trump said, “We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it. And we’re going to see. It's a great thing when it works but when they call every shot wrong that's not good. They are always on the side of China."
Later, Trump, however, did not say that he was absolutely going to discontinue the money supply to the WHO when asked whether it would be a good move to do so at the time of a pandemic. He said he did not say he would do it but would have a look at it.