President Donald Trump has given the World Health Organization an ultimatum, warning that unless it changes its ways, the U.S. may make its funding freeze permanent and could even pull out of the organization.
Trump sent a letter Monday to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus indicting the WHO for its failures to contain the coronavirus.
The president released the text of his letter on Twitter.
“The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China,” Trump wrote. “My Administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste.
“That is why it is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization,” he added.
“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.”
Trump noted in his letter that after his April 14 decision to freeze WHO funding temporarily, his administration reviewed the WHO’s “failed response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This review has confirmed many of the serious concerns I raised last month and identified others that the World Health Organization should have addressed, especially the World Health Organization’s alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China,” Trump wrote.
Most of Trump’s letter is an exhaustive indictment of the steps the WHO could have taken to alert the world to the danger of the coronavirus, beginning when initial accounts of the virus emerged in December.
“The World Health Organization failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts, even those that came from sources within Wuhan itself,” he wrote.
The WHO ignored vital information, Trump said
On Dec. 31, “Taiwanese authorities had communicated information to the World Health Organization indicating human-to-human transmission of a new virus. Yet the World Health Organization chose not to share any of this critical information with the rest of the world, probably for political reasons,” he wrote.
“The World Health Organization has repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that were either grossly inaccurate or misleading,” Trump wrote, noting that on Jan. 14, “the World Health Organization gratuitously reaffirmed China’s now-debunked claim that the coronavirus could not be transmitted between humans.”
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
Trump’s letter slams the WHO for giving in to pressure from China.
“On January 21, 2020, President Xi Jinping of China reportedly pressured you not to declare the coronavirus outbreak an emergency,” Trump wrote. “You gave in to this pressure the next day and told the world that the coronavirus did not pose a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Just over one week later, on January 30, 2020, overwhelming evidence to the contrary forced you to reverse course.”
The letter also criticizes the WHO for praising Chinese transparency in dealing with the virus while it “did not mention that China had, by then, silenced or punished several doctors for speaking out about the virus and restricted Chinese institutions from publishing information about it.”
The WHO played favorites, Trump said.
“You also strongly praised China’s strict domestic travel restrictions, but were inexplicably against my closing of the United States border, or the ban, with respect to people coming from China. I put the ban in place regardless of your wishes,” he wrote. “Your political gamesmanship on this issue was deadly, as other governments, relying on your comments, delayed imposing life-saving restrictions on travel to and from China. Incredibly, on February 3, 2020, you reinforced your position, opining that because China was doing such a great job protecting the world from the virus, travel restrictions were ‘causing more harm than good.'”
“Throughout this crisis, the World Health Organization has been curiously insistent on praising China for its alleged ‘transparency,'” Trump added. “You have consistently joined in these tributes, notwithstanding that China has been anything but transparent. In early January, for example, China ordered samples of the virus to be destroyed, depriving the world of critical information.
“Even now, China continues to undermine the International Health Regulations by refusing to share accurate and timely data, viral samples and isolates, and by withholding vital information about the virus and its origins. And, to this day, China continues to deny international access to their scientists and relevant facilities, all while casting blame widely and recklessly and censoring its own experts.”
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote.
The WHO said Tuesday it was “considering the contents” of the letter,” CNN reported.
On Monday, Tedros said the WHO would conduct a review of its response to the coronavirus.
“I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned, and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response,” he said, according to The Hill. “To be truly comprehensive, such an evaluation must encompass the entirety of the response by all actors, in good faith.”
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