President Trump again attacked the ‘China centric’ World Health Organization and said he wants the group looked into before anymore U.S. dollars flow that way.
‘They called it wrong, they called it wrong, they missed the call,’ Trump said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing. ‘They should have known and they probably did know,’ he said, suggesting the WHO was withholding information about the coronavirus.
Trump’s main beef with the United Nations health group is that leadership there said it wasn’t necessary to bar travelers coming in from China as the coronavirus started spreading beyond Wuhan, where it originated.
President Trump attacked the World Health Organization on Tuesday calling it too ‘China centric’ and suggesting that it was hiding information about the coronavirus from the rest of the world
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, annoyed Trump by saying that travel didn’t need to be stopped from China in the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak
The president has followed the lead of prominent conservatives in complaining that the WHO has been too friendly to 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 near the top of the 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,’ he said, changing the point he was trying to make mid-sentence.
Later in the briefing Trump threatened to cut off their supply of money from the United States.
‘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,’ Trumps said. 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,’ Trump also complained.
Later when the president was asked if it was a smart move to cut off funds to the major global health organization during a global pandemic he backed away from the definitiveness of his previous threat.
‘I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but I’m going to look at it,’ Trump pledged.
Later, Trump was asked why he thought the WHO was ‘China centric.’
‘I don’t know, they seem to comd down on the side of China,’ the president responded. ‘Don’t close your borders to China, don’t do this, they don’t report what’s really going on, they didn’t see it and yet they were there. They didn’t see what was going on in Wuhan … they must have seen it, but they didn’t report it.’
Trump had previewed his attack earlier Tuesday on Twitter.
Trump suggested he might cut the U.S.’s funding that goes toward WHO, calling the United Nations agency ‘very China centric’
The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China – where Chinese authorities lifted a travel ban on April 8. Conservative allies of Trump have said WHO helped China cover-up the outbreak
‘The W.H.O. really blew it,’ Trump wrote. ‘For some reason, funded largely by the United States yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look.’
Trump was following the lead of American conservatives including Florida Sen. Rick Scott who placed blame on WHO for ‘helping Communist China cover up a global pandemic.’
At the same time, Democratic governors, lawmakers and pundits have condemned Trump’s response in combatting the virus, suggesting he did too little, too late.
On January 31, the Trump administration announced travel restrictions on people coming from China due to the outbreak.
But on February 3, WHO said such bans were not needed.
‘Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on,’ Trump tweeted Tuesday.
‘Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?’ the president asked.
WHO is also still not recommending that every person wears a mask, while the U.S.’s Centers of Disease Control made the voluntary recommendation last week.
GOP lawmakers have floated that it’s because the WHO is under China’s spell.
Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should resign because ‘he allowed Beijing to use the WHO to mislead the global community.’
As did Sen. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican.
‘They need to come clean and another piece of this is, the WHO has to stop covering for them,’ she said of China. ‘I think Dr. Tedros needs to step down,’ McSally said on Fox Business Network.
‘We need to take some actions to address this issue. It’s just irresponsible, it’s unconscionable what they have done here while we have people dying across the globe,’ McSally added.
Scott, the Florida senator, said the Senate Homeland Security Committee needed to launch an investigation into WHO’s handling of the virus.
In late January, Tedros complimented China’s President Xi Jinping for the country’s handling of the virus, as the Chinese leader centralized the response after local officials in Wuhan couldn’t keep the outbreak under control.
But Xi also controlled the flow of information, with reports coming out of China that the country had been trying to silence whistleblowers.
Last week Bloomberg News reported on a U.S. intelligence report that said China was underreporting its coronavirus numbers of cases and deaths.
Trump voiced that he, too, has been skeptical of China’s reporting.
WHO has been criticized for taking Chinese data at face value.
‘Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I’m being nice when I say that,’ Trump said at a daily briefing.
WHO is part of the United Nations and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has 194 members and two associate members.
WHO is funded in two ways – through assessed contributions and voluntary contributions.
The assessed contributions, which are like dues to the organization, are calculated by looking at a country’s wealth and population.
While the U.S. pays the most in assessed contributions, that full pot of money has only accounted for less than 25 per cent of WHO’s haul over the past few years.
However, Americans NGOs and charity organizations, along with taxpayer dollars, do make up the biggest chunk of the WHO’s funding.