China pledges $2bn to cause as World Health Organization backs inquiry into its actions

Wednesday, 20 May, 2020

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Tuesday that the United States was trying to smear China and had miscalculated by trying to use China to avoid its own responsibility.

In this letter, Trump also threatened to make permanent his freeze on funding to the World Health Organization unless the body commits to major improvements in the next 30 days.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was even harsher in criticizing Taiwan's exclusion from the assembly meeting, saying in a statement that the World Health Organization chief chose "not to invite Taiwan under pressure" from China despite having the "power and precedent" to include Taiwan in the assembly's proceedings.

The review was on Monday seemingly supported by Chinese President Xi Jinping - who had previously opposed calls for a review of the origin and spread of the coronavirus.

Agreeing to cooperate with an independent probe into its pandemic response, Xi also called on the assembly to rally behind the WHO.

In his opening remarks at the first virtual session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) that began in Geneva, Ghebreyesus defended the WHO's response, saying "alarms were sounded early and often".

He accused Tedros of misleading the world by asserting on February 3 that the chances of COVID-19 going anywhere outside China were "very low" and that travel restrictions were "causing more harm than good".

Tedros said the pandemic has exposed critical fault lines between countries that could jeopardize stopping the virus.

US President Donald Trump has slammed the World Health organisation's response to the coronavirus outbreak in a letter threatening a permanent freeze on US funding to the body.

Trump wrote that World Health Organization "consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from The Lancet".

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a copy of which was published by Trump on Twitter, the president added that he could reconsider the USA membership in the organization. Recently, WHO had announced launching an independent review of the coronavirus pandemic.

"My Administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization", the letter reads.

"Lou, this is just one of numerous concepts being considered under which we would pay 10% of what we have been paying over many years, matching much lower China payments", Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday, after the draft was leaked.

Critics say Trump, who had earlier praised China's response, is trying to divert attention from his handling of the pandemic in the USA, which has suffered by far the highest death toll.

China should actively participate in the work of independent review of the WHO's COVID-19 response, the Commission added.