President Donald Trump announced Friday that the United States was formally severing its relationship with the World Health Organization, citing the disproportionate amount of influence China has over the WHO, CNBC reported.
Conflict between the United States and the WHO resulted from the WHO's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which the president believes was too lax on China and the communist nation's responsibility for the spread.
"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said Friday during a news conference. "The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China?"
U.S. financial contributions to the World Health Organization, an average of $446 million per year, represent about 15% of the organization's total budget.
President Trump had threatened to cut off WHO funding earlier this month, threatening to make a temporary funding freeze permanent if the organization didn't commit to significant reforms.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected to his position with support from China, and despite clear evidence that China suppressed the severity of COVID-19 early on, Tedros has credited China with transparency in dealing with the outbreak.
The WHO has been criticized for allowing China to influence its response to COVID-19. One example of that is the exclusion of Taiwan from its response. A WHO official blatantly refused to even acknowledge a reporter's questions about Taiwan's WHO membership during an interview.
Aylward's behavior reminds us that either we remove #China's pernicious influence in multilateral institutions like… https://t.co/KeJx1x1qDN— Gordon G. Chang (@Gordon G. Chang) 1585408484.0
In mid-January, the WHO issued a statement saying there was no clear evidence of human-to-human COVID-19 transmission, even though a Chinese doctor had come to the opposite conclusion in late December.
During that same time, China was reporting no new cases of the virus during a 12-day period. Now, it's clear the virus was quickly spreading throughout the city of Wuhan.