China on Monday accused the United States of “selfishness” after President Donald Trump said he would terminate the US relationship with the World Health Organization.
Washington and Beijing have clashed repeatedly on different topics and on Friday Trump said he would sever ties with the UN health body, which he had previously accused of being too lenient with China.
The WHO’s massive loss of funding from the US comes as the deadly coronavirus rages on. “The international community generally disagrees with such US acts of selfishness, evasion of responsibility, and undermining of international cooperation against the epidemic,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a regular press briefing on Monday.
He added the WHO “cannot possibly serve only one country, and should not follow the will of the country that pays the most to it”.
The US has been the WHO’s biggest contributor, but in April Trump suspended funding, accusing it of not doing enough to curb COVID-19’s initial spread and of being too soft on China. While Trump said there was a need for “answers from China on the virus”, Beijing has furiously denied allegations that it downplayed the threat when the pathogen first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. On Monday, Zhao said “in the face of the epidemic, any suppression or even blackmail of the WHO is a disregard of life, challenge to humanitarianism, and destruction of international cooperation”.
He said China would “play its due role as a responsible big country” and support the WHO in taking on a position of leadership in tackling the virus, calling on the international community to unite and increase political support and funding for the body.