Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who blamed the U.S. Army for the Chinese coronavirus last month, told reporters on Wednesday that President Donald Trump potentially cutting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) would “seriously undermine” response to the pandemic.
Zhao also claimed that WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is not a medical doctor, has led the WHO in “earnestly fulfilling its duties, upholding an objective, scientific and fair stance, and playing an important role in coordinating international efforts.” Support for Tedros from Beijing comes after weeks of mounting criticism and calls from the general public and from members of Congress for the WHO chief to resign.
Tedros has repeatedly demanded the world applaud China’s efforts to contain the virus – despite studies blaming the Communist Party’s censorship of doctors who identified it correctly as a communicable disease for as many as 95 percent of the world’s infections. Under his leadership, the WHO relayed false Chinese information saying the virus was not spreading from human to human, repeatedly urged countries not to limit entry to travelers from China, and chose to disregard early warnings from the government of Taiwan, which the WHO does not recognize, of the severity of the outbreak.
In contrast with this reality, Zhao affirmed that the WHO under Tedros “has won recognition and acclaim from all over the world.”
“China will continue supporting the WHO in fulfilling its work and playing a leading role in global anti-pandemic cooperation,” the spokesman promised, before warning Trump not to cut funding for the United Nations agency.
“As the COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] spreads rapidly across the world, the US ‘putting a hold on US funding to WHO’ will seriously undermine the organization’s normal functioning as well as international anti-pandemic cooperation,” Zhao predicted. “We hope countries can work together, help each other amid difficulties and jointly contribute to the global fight against the coronavirus.”
Zhao has continued to represent the Chinese Foreign Ministry after outraging the world with an unsubstantiated accusation in March that the United States Army developed the Chinese coronavirus and spread it deliberately in Wuhan.
“When did patient zero begin in US?” Zhao wrote on Twitter, a social media outlet the Communist Party has banned Chinese citizens from using. “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent”:
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
Twitter has not removed the post, and expressed that it would not censor Chinese regime disinformation on the platform.
The Global Times, a Chinese communist propaganda newspaper, speculated that an Army facility in Maryland developed the virus.
At press time, no evidence exists tying the Chinese coronavirus to the United States military or America in any way. Scientific consensus indicates the virus originated in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019. Most theories suggest it infected its first human victim through the consumption of wild animal meat.
Zhao’s remarks on Wednesday were a response to President Trump calling the WHO “very China-centric” and publicly mulling cutting funding for the agency.
“The W.H.O. really blew it,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
During his daily coronavirus briefing later that day, Trump said he was considering no longer funding the agency.
“We want to look into the World Health Organization because they really called it wrong,” Trump told reporters. “They missed the call, they could have called it months earlier, they would have known, they should have known, and they probably did know.”
“They seem to be very China-centric,” he continued. “That’s a nice way of saying it, but they seem to be very China-centric, and they seem to err always on the side of China.”
“I’m not saying I’m going to do it. But we’re going to look at it,” the president said of defunding the agency.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, appeared to support Trump’s consideration during a television appearance on Tuesday.
“In the next appropriations bill, there’s not going to be any money for the WHO. I’m in charge of the appropriations subcommittee. I’m not going to support funding the WHO under its current leadership,” Graham said. “They’ve been deceptive, they’ve been slow, and they’ve been Chinese apologists. I don’t think they’re a good investment, under the current leadership, for the United States.”
The United States provided just slightly over 14 percent of the WHO’s funding in 2018-2019. The American government was the agency’s single largest source of funds. The second-largest, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is also run by Americans.
China provided the WHO with 0.21 percent of its funding that year.