Coronavirus: China investing millions in WHO to make up for Trump cuts and boost its influence, officials say

China’s President Xi Jinping (L) speaks next to US President Donald Trump during a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. Donald Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work “hard” and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, during their meeting in Beijing on November 9, warning that “time is quickly running out”

China has pledged to invest millions of additional dollars into the World Health Organisation (WHO) after Donald Trump announced he was cutting off US funding for the group while reviewing its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Beijing said it would contribute an additional $30m as the United Nations organisation battles the Covid-19 pandemic, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang saying in a press briefing on Thursday the money would support those efforts as well as “the construction of public health systems in developing countries”.
The move comes as officials warn China has used funding for the organisation as a means to increase its own power throughout the world.
Beijing previously announced in a statement just last month that it was adding an additional $20m in funds for the group to “help small and medium-sized countries with weak public health systems in particular” during the pandemic.
Mr Trump meanwhile suspended $400m in funding for the organisation earlier this month, saying the group took assertions from Beijing about the novel virus “at face value” as it began to spread throughout China.

“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” Mr Trump said at a White House press conference, adding that “the outbreak could have been contained at its source” had the group handled the outbreak appropriately from the beginning.The president has been accused of attempting to cast blame on the international group as criticism mounts over his own administration’s seemingly slow response to the virus.

Health experts have said the US outbreak was significantly worsened by a lack of expansive Covid-19 testing capabilities in the initial months of the pandemic. China’s foreign ministry slammed the decision, saying it “will weaken the WHO’s capabilities and undermine international cooperation” surrounding efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“China will as always support the WHO in playing an important role in international public health and global anti-epidemic response”, the ministry said earlier this month. The additional funding has been allocated because “Beijing sees an opportunity to boost its superficial credentials as a global contributor to the pandemic following the US decision to halt funding to WHO”, John Lee, former national security adviser to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, told Business Insider.

He added: “When [WHO] leadership is called to make decisions of global health concern such as with the current pandemic, such decisions tend to be overly influenced by political rather than health priorities.The decision to suspend contributions to the organisation, which has a $4.8bn annual budget, received extensive criticism from health experts.“Fighting a global pandemic requires international cooperation and reliance on science and data,” Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, told Politico. It was not clear when and if the US would continue funding WHO after the pandemic.