China to pump extra $47 million into WHO after US freezes funding

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang announced China's latest funding package for the World Health Organization Source: AFP

China will donate an extra $30 million (A$47 million) to the World Health Organization to assist in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic.

China has announced it will donate another $30 million (A$47 million) to the World Health Organization to help in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic, days after Washington said it would freeze funding.

"China has decided to donate another $30 million in cash to the WHO, in addition to the previous donation of $20 million (A$21 million), to support the global fight against COVID-19 and strengthen developing countries' health systems," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.

He added that China's contribution to the UN agency "reflects the support and trust of the Chinese government and people for the WHO".

The US, which is the WHO's biggest contributor, accused the WHO last week of "mismanaging" the COVID-19 crisis, drawing ire from Beijing as both countries spar over the deadly virus.

In announcing the funding freeze last week, US President Donald Trump accused the WHO of covering up the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak in China before it spread.

Mr Trump said US taxpayers provided between $400 million (A$631 million) and $500 million (A$789 million) per year to the WHO, while "in contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million (A$63 million) a year and even less".

China defends WHO

China has denied Western suggestions that it covered up the extent of the virus outbreak, rejecting claims it has an overly cosy relationship with the WHO as well.

But local authorities did silence doctors who tried to raise the alarm about the virus in Wuhan in December. 

An investigation determined that police "inappropriately" punished one of the whistleblowers, Li Wenliang, an eye doctor who later died of the COVID-19 disease.

The WHO, under the leadership of Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has been accused by Washington of uncritically accepting China's early assertions that the virus was not spread between humans, and of wrongly praising Beijing's "transparency" over the magnitude of the crisis.

The pandemic, combined with the threat of a halt in US funding, marks the biggest challenge to date in Tedros' near three-year tenure.

"Supporting the WHO at this critical time in the global fight against the epidemic is defending the ideals and principles of multilateralism and upholding the status and authority of the United Nations," Mr Geng said.

The US is the country worst-hit by the coronavirus, with a death toll of around 46,000.

Numbers in China have dwindled as it begins to cautiously lift virus control measures, although fears remain over a potential resurgence and imported infections from abroad.


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