The World Health Organization held a meeting on Monday to discuss reviewing the global coronavirus response. Chinese President Xi Jinping also announced that for two years, China will donate $2 billion to the W.H.O in aid.
Official English translation of President Xi’s statement said that, “China will provide 2 billion U.S. dollars over two years to help with Covid-19 response, and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries,” according to Evelyn Cheng of CNBC.
The donation sum nearly matches the WHO’s entire annual program budget of last year, according to Reuters correspondents Emma Farge and Stephanie Nebehay. However, President Trump is not thrilled with China’s efforts for global remediation, nor the WHO’s response to the pandemic. Farge and Nebehay reported that Trump recently spoke at an event at the White House and called out the WHO by saying that, “The United States pays them $450 million a year,” while, “China pays them $38 million a year.” Trump’s disdain also led him to call the WHO, “a puppet of China. They’re China-centric, to put it nicer, but they’re a puppet of China.”
The United States froze their contributions to the WHO last month, despite being a longtime contributor, with Trump saying the freeze was in response to how the organization handled the COVID-19 outbreak. Andrew Jacobs, Michael D. Shear, and Edward Wong of The New York Times said that this freeze could become permanent, with America repealing it’s membership in the WHO if the organization does not meet what Trump believes is a necessary change within the next 30 days.
The changes Trump wants were not directly stated in the accusatory letter he wrote, however The New York Times article expressed that Trump said, “the only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
China has also reportedly been facing backlash from nations besides America; the country’s wolf warrier diplomacy strategy raising tensions. Since this week, almost 100 nations have now called for an independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic in China, reported The New York Times. Farge and Nebehay said that while Xi was actively against these requests, he would allow Beijing to receive an impartial investigation once control over the virus has been reached.
However, The New York Times report that China’s response to criticism has overall been fairly immediate, with their large donation to the WHO appearing to be one such effort of alleviating tensions. Experts such as a Ryan Hass, scholar at the Brookings Institution, believe that Trump’s evasion from taking a leadership position will also work in China’s favour; Xi has a record of exploiting American leadership withdrawal.
Critics of Trump have voiced concerns that his temporary separation from the WHO happened right as America was facing the brunt of the virus. The pandemic has so far infected about a million and half people in the United States, and is now responsible for over 90,000 American deaths, the highest of any country.
The New York Times published a tweet Trump released over the weekend that showed his defense against critics, placing blame of the pandemic on the WHO and China, the origin nation:
“Why is it that China, for decades, and with a population much bigger than ours, is paying a tiny fraction of $’s to The World Health Organization, The United Nations and, worst of all, The World Trade Organization, where they are considered a so-called ‘developing country’ and are therefore given massive advantages over The United States, and everyone else?”
The European Union drafted a resolution to evaluate the WHO’s performance, which seemed to include all 194 states in agreement.