US President Donald Trump has threatened China of severe consequences if Beijing was “knowingly responsible” for the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences,” Trump told reporters at a daily briefing. According to Trump, the relationship between Washington and Beijing before the start of the pandemic was constructive.
Washington has consistently blamed China for a lack of clarity after the coronavirus broke out late last year in its city of Wuhan. Trump administration later halted aid to the World Health Organisation blaming it of being “China-centric”.
Ties between the US and China have been tense over the pandemic. Relations further tumbled when Donald Trump tweeted that the US will help industries that are particularly affected by “the Chinese virus.”
Although the US president has previously called the coronavirus a “foreign virus,” this is the first time he used phrasing that pointedly draws attention to the outbreak’s geographic origins.
In the early days of the pandemic, many people referred to the infection as the “Wuhan virus,” after the city of Wuhan – the original epicenter of coronavirus. The virus is officially called SARS-CoV-2 while the disease it causes is called COVID-19.
On April 14, US President Donald Trump announced to halt the funding for the World Health Organization (WHO). Trump said the review would cover the WHO’s “role in severely mismanaging and concealing the spread of coronavirus.”
Trump’s decision comes in the middle of the worst global pandemic in decades and as he fiercely advocates his own handling of the outbreak in the United States. ‘’ The WHO failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable’’, he said. He also alleged that the WHO promoted China’s ‘’ disinformation’ about the pandemic that likely led to a wider outbreak.
The US is the single largest contributor to the WHO. It gives the body almost $5 mn every year, with $400 mn in voluntary payments and $116 million mandated by the United Nations.
In 2018-2019, the American government alone contributed almost 15% of the $4.4 bn of the WHO budget. With the halt in funding, the future of the WHO raises several concerns. Several WHO programs, including those dealing with COVID-19 mitigation, are now under threat of being sidelined as millions of dollars in funding dry up. For the 2020-2021 budget, as much as $720 million dollars worth of WHO programs could go unfunded for this year and the next.
President Trump’s decision to stop funding of the WHO in the midst of a pandemic drew immediate criticism from China. Speaking to Global Times Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, labeled the decision as ‘’unethical’ and believes the US is only trying to divert attention from its own failure of managing the crisis.