In a brief press conference on Friday afternoon, President Trump announced significant new actions that his administration will take against the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese government.
The president blasted China for pressuring the WHO to mislead the world and cover up the severity of the coronavirus. He announced that the United States will be cutting ties with the WHO and would redirect the $450 million that the U.S. contributes per year to the WHO to other international health organizations. He noted that China only contributes $40 million to the WHO.
“We have detailed the reforms that the WHO must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” the president stated. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the WHO and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
The WHO has faced substantial criticism for incorrectly reporting the severity of the coronavirus.
In a now infamous tweet, the WHO wrote on January 14, 2020, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, China.”
In April, President Trump originally announced that he would be suspending funds from flowing the WHO pending an investigation. On May 18, 2020 the president addressed a fiercely written letter to the director general of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus. In it, he listed 17 ways the WHO had failed in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the initial announcement in April, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the decision to suspend funding to the WHO “senseless” and “illegal.”
“The president’s halting of funding to the WHO as it leads the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic is senseless,” Pelosi said in a statement. “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged.”
On Friday, the President also blamed China for unlawfully claiming territory in the Pacific Ocean, breaking their word on respecting Hong Kong’s autonomy and violating promises to nations around the world.
“For years, the government of China has conducted illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets of which there are many,” the president said.
To counter the growing national security threat the China poses, the president suspended the entry of certain foreign nationals from China who may pose national security risks, took action to protect U.S. financial markets and began eliminating certain policy protections for Hong Kong in retaliation for China exerting growing control over the once independent city.
“We will be revising the State Departments’ travel advisory for Hong Kong to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus. We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,” President Trump stated.
Lawmakers in Congress are also recognizing the growing dictatorial threat that China poses to its own people and the United States.
The House of Representatives recently passed, by a vote of 407-1, a bill to “condemn gross human rights violations of ethnic Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, China and call for an end to arbitrary detention, torture and harassment of these communities inside and outside China.” According to some estimates, China currently holds over 1,000,000 Muslims captive in its detention centers in Xinjiang, China.
The bill, S. 178 – The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019, will now be sent to the president’s desk for consideration.
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