North America

Donald Trump threatens to withdraw funding from 'China-centric' WHO

US President Donald Trump during his daily COVID-19 briefing. Source: AAP

Donald Trump has threatened to put a hold on funding for the World Health Organization, accusing it of bias toward China during the coronavirus crisis.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding to the World Health Organization, accusing it of bias toward China during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Trump told reporters he was "going to put a very powerful hold on" funding to WHO, the UN body whose biggest funding source is the United States.

"We're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO," Mr Trump said.

The US President has previously criticised other UN and multilateral agencies.

He gave no details about how much money would be withheld and minutes later during the same press conference he appeared to backtrack.

"I'm not saying I'm going to do it," Mr Trump said. 

"We will look at ending funding."

According to Mr Trump, the WHO "seems to be very biased toward China. That's not right."

His comments built on an earlier statement on Twitter in which he accused the WHO of being "very China centric."

Mr Trump asked why the WHO had given "such a faulty recommendation," apparently referring to the UN body's advice against curtailing international travel to stop the virus which first spread from China.

"Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on," President Trump wrote, referring to his decision to ban travel from the country.

0:00

China faces criticism in Washington, particularly from Republicans, over the way it handled the pandemic and Mr Trump has expressed doubt over the accuracy of Chinese statistics for cases and deaths.

However, the President himself has been widely criticised for initially downplaying the virus, which he likened to an ordinary flu and said was under control in the United States, before later accepting that it was a national emergency.

More than 12,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch