President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) has drawn praise from numerous U.S. lawmakers, as the body comes under increasing scrutiny over its ties to Beijing and its handling of the pandemic.
Trump on April 15 declared funding would be halted for 60 to 90 days pending a review “to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” The United States is the single largest donor to the WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, according to State Department statistics. That figure is roughly 12 percent of WHO’s budget.
While the move prompted criticism from some in the international community, including the United Nations secretary-general and the Chinese foreign ministry, it was welcomed by several Republican lawmakers and rights activists, who slammed the agency for its role in aiding the Chinese regime to downplay the severity of the outbreak during its early stages.
“Who knows how much better off the world would be now if China had been honest? Or if the WHO hadn’t parroted the regime’s lies?” Republican members of the House Oversight Committee said in a tweet. “The president is right to halt WHO funding until we can get to the bottom of its virus response & relationship with Beijing.”
Who knows how much better off the world would be now if China had been honest?
Or if the WHO hadn’t parroted the regime’s lies?
The president is right to halt WHO funding until we can get to the bottom of its virus response & relationship with Beijing.pic.twitter.com/3PTr9kYNAj
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) April 14, 2020
“American taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go to an organization more concerned with appeasing the Chinese Communist Party than protecting global health,” Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) wrote on Twitter.
American taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go to an organization more concerned with appeasing the Chinese Communist Party than protecting global health. https://t.co/TQQzqXqDH8
— Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (@GReschenthaler) April 14, 2020
Other lawmakers including senators Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Greg Steube (R-Fla.) also backed the funding cut. A group of senators recently wrote a letter to the WHO requesting that it release information about its “failed and delayed response.”
The Senate’s chief oversight committee also said it would investigate the WHO’s pandemic response.
For around three weeks after the WHO was notified of the outbreak on Dec. 31, 2019, the body echoed statements from Chinese officials that there was no evidence or a low risk of the virus being contagious. However, a growing body of evidence shows that the Chinese regime was aware the virus was spreading between humans well before it publicly confirmed human-to-human transmission on Jan. 20.
Recently a WHO official Dr. Maria Van Kerkhov, a specialist on respiratory diseases, said that she suspected there may have been human-to-human transmission “right from the start” when the organization was first notified.
The organization has also been criticized for its treatment of Taiwan, which it has excluded from membership at the behest of the Chinese regime, which considers the self-ruled island as part of its territory. Taiwan, a self-ruled island with its own democratically elected government, says that as a result, it has been deprived of timely information to fight the virus.
Taiwan officials have also accused the WHO of ignoring its query for information sent on Dec. 31, 2019.
Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong called the WHO an “arm of Chinese diplomacy,” and rebuked it for sidelining Taiwan.
The WHO is an arm of Chinese diplomacy under the guise of liberal internationalism or global governance. Transnational cooperation is of course crucial to combating pandemics, but the institution in question is the anthesis of it, as the shunning of Taiwan makes painfully clear. https://t.co/00MYt2lBfo
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) April 14, 2020
Marion Smith, executive director of Washington-based nonprofit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said in a statement that the United States should not reinstate funding to the WHO until its director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus is replaced.
“China has been misleading the rest of the world about the outbreak that originated in Wuhan and has only been able to get away with it because of the WHO’s complicity in covering up the lies,” Smith said.