President Trump announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would temporarily freeze funding to the World Health Organization.
“They seem to be very China-centric. And we have to look into that, so we’ll look into it; we pay for a majority of the money that they get,” Trump said at a White House press conference. “And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO.” Several minutes later, Trump clarified that the U.S. would not immediately cut funding for the organization, but that his administration would study the option.
“They really called every aspect of [the coronavirus pandemic] wrong,” Trump said. “Everything seems to be very biased toward China and that’s not right.”
The U.S. provides about 15 percent of the WHO’s annual budget, making it the highest contributor to the organization. By contrast, China provides 0.2 percent of the budget.
The WHO has been criticized by other U.S. lawmakers for its ties to China. In addition, Taiwan has accused the organization of failing to communicate Taiwanese officials’ warnings of possible human-to-human transmission of coronavirus.
“The WHO could not obtain first-hand information to study and judge whether there was human-to-human transmission of Covid-19,” said Taiwan’s vice president Chen Chien-jen in March. “This led it to announce human-to-human transmission with a delay, and an opportunity to raise the alert level both in China and the wider world was lost.”
Taiwanese medical officials first warned the WHO of possible human-to-human transmission on December 31. On January 14, the WHO wrote in a tweet that “preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” of the coronavirus. The pandemic has since infected over 1,400,000 and claimed at least 80,000 lives worldwide as of Tuesday evening.