WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. will be terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization, saying it had failed to adequately respond to the coronavirus because China has “total control” over the global organization.
He noted that the U.S. contributes about $450 million to the world body while China provides about $40 million.
The U.S. is the largest source of financial support to the WHO and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. Trump said the U.S. would be “redirecting” the money to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” without providing specifics.
The President said that the "world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency."
Earlier in his remarks, he said that China had not properly reported information it had about the coronavirus to the World Health Organization and said China had pressured the WHO to "mislead the world."
"Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities," Trump said. "Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe."
The President had previously announced a temporary halt of funding to the WHO and sent a letter to the agency earlier in May saying that the US would permanently pull funding if the WHO did not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days."
Trump also launched a blistering attack on China, naming misdeeds that range from espionage to the violation of Hong Kong's freedoms, and announced a slew of retaliatory measures that will plunge US-China relations deeper into crisis.
"They've ripped off the United States like no one has ever done before," Trump said of China, as he decried the way Beijing has "raided our factories" and "gutted" American industry, casting Beijing as a central foil he will run against in the remaining months of his re-election campaign.
Trump called out China for "espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many," announced steps to protect American investors from Chinese financial practices, accused Beijing of "unlawfully claiming territory in the Pacific Ocean" and threatening freedom of navigation.
The President blasted Beijing for passing a national security law that fundamentally undermines Hong Kong's autonomy, announcing that going forward, the US will treat Hong Kong the way it treats the rest of China. Trump said the US will strip Hong Kong of the special policy measures on extradition, trade, travel and customs the US had previously granted it.