News ID: 269291
Published: 0236 GMT May 19, 2020
EU backs organization after Trump pull-out threat

China says US trying to shift blame and smear Beijing over WHO

China says US trying to shift blame and smear Beijing over WHO
Reuters

China said the United States was trying to shift the blame for Washington’s own mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, responding to President Donald Trump’s letter threatening to halt funding to the World Health Organization.

Trump threatened on Monday to reconsider the United States’ membership of the World Health Organization (WHO) if the organization did not commit to improvements within 30 days, and said the body had shown an “alarming lack of independence” from China, Reuters reported.

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.

Also the European Union backed the organization and multilateral efforts to fight the coronavirus on Tuesday after the US president threatened to quit the global agency.

"This is the time for solidarity, not the time for finger pointing or for undermining multilateral cooperation," European foreign affairs spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson told reporters, AFP reported.

The EU has sponsored a motion at Tuesday's session of the WHO's annual assembly to urge an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the international response to the pandemic.

And the spokeswoman said: "The European Union backs the WHO in its efforts to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak and has already provided additional funding to support these efforts."

Not for the first time, this puts Brussels in opposition to Washington, where Trump has accused the UN health agency of being too close to China and of being slow to react to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Monday, the US leader – who has already frozen US funding for the WHO – wrote its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to lay out the charges and threaten to pull out.

"They're a puppet of China, they're China-centric to put it nicer," he explained.

Beijing has furiously denied the US allegations that it played down the threat and Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated at the World Health Assembly that his nation had been "transparent" throughout the crisis.

Brussels is backing an independent inquiry into how the epidemic erupted and spread, but has tried to lead an international, multilateral response to the crisis and raise funds for vaccine research.

 

   
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