BEIJING: China said Wednesday that it was “seriously concerned” about the US decision to withdraw World Health Organization support, and urged Washington to fulfill its obligations during the coronavirus crisis.
President Donald Trump accused the Geneva-based body on Tuesday of putting political correctness above life-saving measures, as he ordered funding to suspend the pandemic for “mismanaging.”
“China is seriously concerned about the US announcement to suspend funding for the World Health Organization,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing.
“The current global epidemic situation is grim. It is at a critical moment. This US decision will weaken WHO’s capacities and undermine the international cooperation against the epidemic.”
The US and China are sparring about the deadly virus that was first identified in China and killed more than 125,000 people worldwide.
Trump’s new decision reflects his conviction that the WHO has been skewed against China, colluding to avoid having to be exposed to the emerging health crisis by the main economic rival in the US.
“We urge the United States to earnestly fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, and support the WHO-led international action against the epidemic,” , said Zhao, adding that the agency is playing a “irreplaceable role” against the pandemic.
The US is the WHO’s biggest funder, delivering it last year for $400 million.
Asked if China is prepared to contribute more to make up for the shortfall, Zhao said Beijing has given the UN body $20 million now that the US is halting support.
“China has always supported the leading role played by the WHO in the international fight against the epidemic… China will look into the relevant issues depending on the needs of the situation,” he said.