US President Donald Trump on Friday said he is terminating the US relationship with the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus, saying the WHO had essentially become a puppet organization of China.
Appearing in the White House Rose Garden, Trump went ahead with repeated threats to eliminate American funding for the group, which amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Trump said the WHO had failed to make reforms to the organization that the president had demanded earlier this month. He said Chinese officials "ignored their reporting obligations" about the virus to the WHO and pressured the WHO to "mislead the world" when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities.
"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. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly but they have refused to act," said Trump.
"Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," he said.
Trump has long questioned the value of the United Nations and scorned the importance of multilateralism as he focuses on an "America First" agenda. Since taking office, Trump has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency UNESCO, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.
The World Health Organization is a UN specialized agency - an independent international body that works with the United Nations. The WHO and a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's decision.HONG KONG
US President Donald Trump said on Friday he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong, in response to China's plans to impose new security legislation in the territory.
Trump made the announcement at a White House news conference, saying China had broken its word over Hong Kong's autonomy. He said its move against Hong Kong was a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, China and the world.
"We will take action to revoke Hong Kong's preferential treatment," he said, adding that the United States would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for smothering Hong Kong's autonomy.
Trump's move follows Chinese plans to impose new national security legislation on the former British colony. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the territory no longer warrants special treatment under US law that has enabled it to remain a global financial center.
Trump said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating policy agreements on Hong Kong, ranging from extradition treatment to export controls.
He said he would also issue a proclamation on Friday to better safeguard vital university research by suspending the entry of foreign nationals from China identified as potential security risks.
Sources, including a current US official, told Reuters on Thursday that the latter move, which had been expected, could impact 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese graduate students.