China Sends $30 Million to W.H.O. After U.S. Freezes Funding

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 28: Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, on January 28, 2020 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Naohiko Hatta - Pool/Getty Images)
Naohiko Hatta - Pool/Getty

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday it will donate another $30 million to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), which is under growing scrutiny from member states for its poor handling of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and its suspicious tendency to toe the political line from Beijing.

American taxpayers are far and away the most important funders of the W.H.O., having donated over $400 million last year, compared to China’s total of $86 million.

“China has decided to donate another $30 million in cash to the W.H.O., in addition to the previous donation of $20 million, to support the global fight against COVID-19 and strengthen developing countries’ health systems,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.

Geng said the donation “reflects the support and trust of the Chinese government and people for W.H.O.”

“At this crucial moment, supporting W.H.O. is supporting multilateralism and global solidarity,” added another Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying.

“We should encourage instead of condemn the W.H.O. We should support, instead of undermining it,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday during a conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was highly critical of President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze W.H.O. funding, sending out yet another Foreign Ministry spokesman – Zhao Lijian, the official who floated insane conspiracy theories about the U.S. developing the coronavirus in a military laboratory and deliberately planting it in Wuhan – to claim the U.S. move would “weaken the WHO’s capabilities and undermine international cooperation.”

“China will as always support the WHO in playing an important role in international public health and global anti-epidemic response,” Zhao said on April 15. WHO does not appear to have raised any strident objections to Zhao’s conspiracy theories.

Critics of W.H.O. point out that it still endorses wildly improbable claims from the CCP, even though W.H.O. officials know they are coming under scrutiny for passing along so much false information:

The Trump administration has said it will redirect WHO funding into health programs that bypass the organization while an investigation of WHO leadership proceeds over the next 60 to 90 days. 

ABC News on Wednesday made an effort to challenge the administration’s approach and defend W.H.O. from criticism by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who accurately noted China violated W.H.O.’s rules with impunity:

“The IHRs (international health regulations) put all of the onus on the member state, not on WHO. A member state has an obligation to promptly notify WHO of novel events, but the IHRs don’t give WHO the authority to compel that,” according to Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.

Pompeo blamed WHO for failing its “continuing obligation to make sure that those rules are being complied with” and said its director-general has “enormous authority with respect to nations that do not comply.”

But WHO has no authority to compel data, with its bylaws permitting it only to share information given by a country and with its consent. There’s an exemption if the country itself is completely stonewalling, but only when it’s “justified by the magnitude of the public health risk,” and in this case, China was at least “going through the motions of cooperating,” according to Konyndyk.

The W.H.O. is under fire not only for failing to exert some sort of coercive force against Beijing, but for neglecting to even criticize the CCP for lying extravagantly about the virus and flouting every sensible directive put in place for international health.

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