President Trump has continuously blasted WHO, accusing it of delaying the information on COVID-19 and favoring China. Now, Trump is threatening to withdraw funding permanently and cancel US membership if it does not commit to "substantive improvements" within 30 days, even as it deals with a devastating global pandemic.
On Monday, Trump sent an official letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Trump criticized what he said were repeated "missteps" in the global health agency's handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Including not pushing China to allow international inspectors into the country as the coronavirus outbreak grew, falsely stating in January that "Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission" of Covid-19. And failing to declare the coronavirus a pandemic early due to pressure from Chinese authorities.
Trump claims that these and other perceived transgressions are evidence that the global body is too easy with Beijing. The "only way forward for the [WHO] is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China," Trump wrote in the letter. Trump also added that the US and the WHO are in conversations about how to do just that.
"If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership," he said in the letter posted on Twitter.
The US is the largest contributor to the WHO funds. WHO is at risk of losing nearly $900 million contributions that the US provides in a period of two years. Previously, Trump had temporarily suspended the US's contributions to the WHO last month, accusing it of promoting China's "disinformation" about the coronavirus outbreak. About $400 million is frozen.
"My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste," Trump concluded, adding that the US will "reconsider our membership" unless improvements are made.
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
He also accused the UN body of caving into Chinese pressure by declining to declare the novel coronavirus a global health outbreak in the initial days of the outbreak. He went on to criticize the WHO for praising China's "transparency", despite the reports Beijing had punished several doctors in Wuhan (the epicenter of the outbreak) for addressing out about the viral infection in late December.
United Nations health agency officials have denied the allegations and China claims that it has been transparent and open.