On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said the US decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) weakens international cooperation in fighting the pandemic.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, called on the US to fulfill its duties and obligations in supporting the WHO, noting that the move will “affect all countries in the world, including the US, and those vulnerable ones.” Zhao said China will continue to support the organization in taking actions against the spread of the disease, according to state-run Xinhua.
China’s response comes after US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his administration will put a hold on funding while a review on the WHO response to COVID-19 is conducted. Trump blamed the WHO for “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus” and has previously claimed the organization is “China-centric.”
NPR reports that the halt on funding could last up to 90 days, while the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 continues to ravage the globe.
In 2018 and 2019, US contributions accounted for around 20% of the WHO’s total budget, including USD237 million – about 22% – of total assessed fees. China accounts for 12% of assessed fee contributions.
The WHO was founded after World War 2 as a part of the United Nations, and serves the world by alerting regions to health threats, developing policy aimed at fighting diseases such as COVID-19 and improving accessibility to healthcare.
On Tuesday, António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, said now is “not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.”
[Cover image via Wikimedia]